A list of items in the past five volumes of LD&C (via RSS feed)
- Language documentation in the aftermath of the 2015 Nepal earthquakes: A guide to two archives and a web exhibit - December 1, 2019
Abstract: We describe two institutionally related archives and an online exhibit representing a set of Tibeto-Burman languages of Nepal. These archives and exhibit were built to house materials resulting from documentation of twelve Tibeto-Burman languages in the aftermath of the 2015 Nepal earthquakes. This account includes a detailed discussion of the different materials recorded, and how they were prepared for the collections. This account also provides a comparison of the two different types of archives, the different but complementary functions they serve, and a discussion of the role that online exhibits can play in the context of language documentation archives.
- Domain change and ethnolinguistic vitality: Evidence from the fishing lexicon of Loloan Malay - November 1, 2019
Abstract: This paper reports a study on the vitality of the fishing lexicon in Loloan Malay. The study was aimed at finding the nature and pattern of domain change, its intergenerational transmission, and its significance for overall ethnolinguistic vitality. The data were collected from a representative group of fishermen through tests that were complemented by interviews. A simple quantitative analysis was undertaken to discover patterns of change, and the ethnographic method was also used to augment the analysis. This study contributes to the sociolinguistic research on language vitality, contact-induced change, and the endangerment of minority languages. The findings reveal a surprising paradox. Although it is still considered to have high cultural importance, the fishing domain is critically endangered. It is argued that the low vitality of the fishing domain does not affect the vitality of the Loloan Malay language in general. The reason is that the linguistic ideology that underpins the group identity of Loloan Malay at the macro-societal level is not tied to fishing, but rather, to religion. This paper also discusses the complexity of the variables involved in domain change, particularly the extra-linguistic factors that contribute to the changes in the fishing domain due to modern socio-economic and technological progress.
- Language names and nonlinguists: A response to Haspelmath - October 1, 2019
Abstract: Haspelmath (2017) proposes a set of principles governing language names. I discuss various issues with his proposals centering around the fact that Haspelmath does not give sufficient consideration for the need for linguists to consider the use of names by nonlinguists in choosing names.
- Language revitalization, video, and mobile social media: A case study from the Khroskyabs language amongst Tibetans in China - October 1, 2019
Abstract: Technology is by no means the most important channel to maintain a language, but it is an effective mode to communicate and interact using the language. As the lives of Khroskyabs speakers continue to be modernized, fewer and fewer aspects of those lives will take place in Khroskyabs. Furthermore, Khroskyabs speakers tend to express negative attitudes towards their language, especially in comparison to the dominant national language – Mandarin – and the local prestige language – Tibetan. The Mothertongue Film on Mobile Social Media project aims to expand the Khroskyabs language into a new domain amongst its speakers by creating a series of videos in the language and sharing them on social media-WeChat. The emerging use of social media such as WeChat provides a platform for language use in the contemporary context for unrecognized and under-resourced languages like Khroskyabs. This project aimed to address these issues, of domain exclusion and negative attitudes, through the production of mobile digital media that can be freely and conveniently shared via the social media platform WeChat for consumption of people in the Khroskyabs-speaking community.
- Public access to research data in language documentation: Challenges and possible strategies - October 1, 2019
Abstract: The Open Access Movement promotes free and unfettered access to research publications and, increasingly, to the primary data which underly those publications. As the field of documentary linguistics seeks to record and preserve culturally and linguistically relevant materials, the question of how openly accessible these materials should be becomes increasingly important. This paper aims to guide researchers and other stakeholders in finding an appropriate balance between accessibility and confidentiality of data, addressing community questions and legal, institutional, and intellectual issues that pose challenges to accessible data.
- Language vitality assessment of Deori: An endangered language - September 1, 2019
Abstract: Deori, a Tibeto-Burman language, is an “endangered” language and is described as a language on the verge of its extinction. Recent research on Deori phonetics and phonology has shown loss of distinct pitch realization and identification in the speech of older as well as younger generation speakers. The difference in production and perception of tonal categories among the speakers of the younger age group led to an examination of language vitality of Deori. To substantiate the analyses of inter-generational language change, this study takes into account inter-generational perceptions on language use and its robustness. The findings of this study show that the language status of Deori is not completely bleak, and there is a sense of optimism for the future of the language among speakers irrespective of age. The findings also show that the language suffers from lack of support in the public domain, lack of teachers to teach Deori as a subject in schools, and absence of exposure in new media. If these problems are rectified, then there is hope of survival for Deori, but only with sustained and conscious efforts aimed at revitalizing.
- Ḵ̓a̱ḵ̓otł̓atła̱no’x̱w x̱a ḵ̓waḵ̓wax̱’mas: Documenting and reclaiming plant names and words in Kwak̓wala on Canada’s west coast - August 1, 2019
Abstract: This paper describes the process and outcomes of a project focused on community-centred reclamation of plant-based knowledge in the Kwakwala language from previously published materials as well as new documentation with Kwakwala-speaking Elders. The paper describes our research process resulting in the documentation of 300 plant word names and phrases, starting with 135 plants with names and words in Kwakwala that had been documented between the late 19th and early 20th century by Franz Boas and George Hunt, subsequently added to and enriched by community members and academics. An audio-visual dictionary of these plant names and associated phrases is now available through the FirstVoices web portal (http://bit.ly/LDC_FirstVoices). The corresponding author initiated the work and then further developed the research in collaboration with Kwakwaka’wakw fluent speakers, linguists, biologists, and the U’mista Cultural Society. The project has stimulated interest among community members who provided valuable feedback on the different ways in which this research can be further accessed and then delivered. The paper concludes with some structured reflections on how to proceed in community-led research projects such as this. The authors see further opportunity for continued cross-disciplinary and community-based research.
- Global Survey of Revitalization Efforts: A mixed methods approach to understanding language revitalization practices - August 1, 2019
Abstract: The world’s linguistic diversity, estimated at over 7,000 languages, is declining rapidly. As awareness about this has increased, so have responses from a number of stakeholders. In this study we present the results of the Global Survey of Revitalization Efforts carried out by a mixed methods approach and comparative analysis of revitalization efforts worldwide. The Survey included 30 questions, was administered online in 7 languages, and documented 245 revitalization efforts yielding some 40,000 bits of data. In this study, we report on frequency counts and show, among other findings, that revitalization efforts are heavily focused on language teaching, perhaps over intergenerational transmission of a language, and rely heavily on community involvement although do not only involve language community members exclusively. The data also show that support for language revitalization in the way of funding, as well as endorsement, is critical to revitalization efforts. This study also makes evident the social, cultural, political, and geographic gaps in what we know about revitalization worldwide. We hope that this study will strengthen broad interest and commitment to studying, understanding, and supporting language revitalization as an integral aspect of the history of human language in the 21st century.
- Recording to revitalize: Language teachers and documentation design - August 1, 2019
Abstract: As language communities lose their last first-language speakers, many turn to language teachers to carry on the important work of language maintenance and revival. How can we design documentation projects that will be useful for these future language users? This paper outlines findings from interviews conducted with ten teachers of Native languages of the Pacific Northwest. These teachers identified specific, concrete areas where language documentation has helped them in their revitalization work, and areas where there are noticeable and often frustrating gaps. Their reflections and observations lead to several concrete suggestions for what linguists can add to their documentation efforts, and also underscore the potential richness of a project designed with teachers in mind. Collaboration with future language revitalizers could be greatly beneficial both to language communities and to linguists.
- Reexamining the classification of an endangered language: The vitality of Brunca - August 1, 2019
Abstract: In 2010, linguists declared Boruca (Brúnkajk) or Brunca (brn), an Indigenous language originating in what is now Costa Rica, to be extinct, basing their assessment on the number of living fully fluent native speakers. Since 2010, there has been no written verification of the current state of the language. Brunca classes are offered in the elementary schools as the primary way the language is being maintained, but they have not been taken into account in prior analyses. According to published research from almost two decades ago, Brunca appears to be losing ground. This has led to its designation as “critically endangered” or “dormant” by most established scales. In order to determine the actual status of the language in the community, we conducted participant observations in the Brunca classes and a series of interviews with the Boruca Culture Council, community elders, and a linguist currently involved in revitalization efforts elsewhere in Costa Rica. Through the present analysis of local stakeholders’ responses, data emerged on truncated but existent efforts to bring back the language. Thus, the present study is at the cutting edge of trying to define what should be measured to determine language vitality and progress in revitalization.
- Scoring sign language vitality: Adapting a spoken language survey to target the endangerment factors affecting sign languages - August 1, 2019
Abstract: This article explores factors affecting the vitality/endangerment levels of sign languages, and how these levels were assessed through an international collaboration using a systematic scoring scheme. This included adapting UNESCO’s Linguistic Vitality and Diversity survey and developing a system for determining endangerment levels based on the responses. Other endangerment scales are briefly explored along with UNESCO’s, and the survey adaptation and systematic scoring processes are explained. The survey needed to be carefully adapted because even though many spoken language procedures can be also used for sign languages, there are additional challenges and characteristics that uniquely affect sign language communities. The article then presents the vitality scores for 15 languages, including both national and village sign languages, and the major factors threatening their vitality. The methodology of scoring based on averages is innovative, as is the workflow between the questionnaire respondents and scoring committee. Such innovations may also be useful for spoken languages. Future efforts might develop best practice models for promoting sign language vitality and compile diachronic data to monitor changes in endangerment status. The findings can also inform policy work to bring about legal recognition, greater communication access, and the protection of deaf signers’ linguistic and cultural identity.
- Evaluating cross-linguistic forced alignment of conversational data in north Australian Kriol, an under-resourced language - June 1, 2019
Abstract: Speech technology is transforming language documentation; acoustic models trained on “small” languages are now technically feasible. At the same time, forced alignment built for major world languages has matured and now offers ease of use through web interfaces requiring low technical expertise. This paper provides an updated and detailed evaluation of cross-linguistic forced alignment, the approach of using forced aligners untrained on the target language. We compare two options within MAUS (Munich Automatic Segmentation System): language-independent mode vs major world language system (here, Italian) on the one dataset, a comparison that has not previously been reported. The dataset comes from a corpus of adult conversational speech in Kriol, an English-based creole of northern Australia. The results of using MAUS Italian were better than those of using the language-independent mode and those in previous studies: the agreement rate at 20 ms was 72.1% at vowel onset and 57.2% at vowel offset. With completely misaligned tokens excluded, the overall agreement rate rose to 69.2% at 20 ms and over 90% at 50 ms. Most errors in the output SAMPA (Speech Assessment Methods Phonetic Alphabet) labels were resolvable with simple text replacements. These results offer updated benchmark data for an untrained, late-model forced alignment system.
- The Javanese language at risk? Perspectives from an East Java village - June 1, 2019
Abstract: This paper assesses the language vitality of the Javanese variety spoken in Paciran, Lamongan, East Java, Indonesia using UNESCO’s nine factors as the core approach and the EGIDS framework for comparison. In this assessment, I show that it is crucial to take into account (i) the speech level distinction between ngoko ‘Low Javanese’ and krama/basa ‘High Javanese’, (ii) the urban-rural divide, and (iii) socio-political and economic factors relevant to Indonesia. Due to the necessary inclusion of these variables among other factors, I suggest that the EGIDS framework – while still useful – cannot capture the nuances of the linguistic vitality situation of Javanese varieties as well as the UNESCO nine factors approach can. Overall, the results suggest that ngoko is presently in a stable diglossic position with Indonesian, the national language, while krama is at risk of endangerment. In Paciran village, the shift away from krama is towards the local variety of ngoko, compared to Indonesian as the unmarked alternative in urban settings. While a stable result for ngoko as spoken in Paciran village is encouraging, utmost caution must be taken given that negative attitudes towards Javanese varieties have been reported in other rural settings in Java.
- Learning and teaching Gumbaynggirr through story: Behind the scenes of professional learning workshops for teachers of an Aboriginal language - May 1, 2019
Abstract: This study unpacks characteristics of the Gumbaynggirr context and aligns them to the rationale, development, and delivery of a set of workshops designed to support community members teaching their language in schools in New South Wales, Australia. In this community adults learn Gumbaynggirr primarily via material made available through historical and linguistic research. Community language revival endeavours have been in progress for some years and are now further expanding into schools. Supporting school teaching of languages being revived is a complex yet under-reported matter, a gap this paper starts to fill. To this end we detail how the strengths of personnel and language resources at the heart of Gumbaynggirr revival efforts allow story to emerge as a focus for the workshops. The project is a collaboration between local community members and university-based colleagues some distance away. The behind-the-scenes planning for the workshops and associated learning and teaching resources are the basis of the research reported here. Methodologically it responds to a community-determined agenda and applies a translational research intent. That is, it shows how tailored input from academic disciplines can maximize language and culture outcomes for teacher development in a revival context.
- Revitalisation of Mangarrayi: Supporting community use of archival audio exemplars for creation of language learning resources - May 1, 2019
Abstract: Mangarrayi is a critically endangered language from the western Roper River re- gion in the Northern Territory of Australia. Today the greatest concentration of Mangarrayi people live at Jilkminggan, 135 kilometres south-east of Katherine. Although several older Mangarrayi speakers remain, the language is no longer used in day-to-day communication. However, there is a desire amongst a number of young adult community members to learn some of their heritage language. In this paper we discuss the process undertaken to support these aspirations, focus- ing on the use of exemplar Mangarrayi utterances sourced from archival docu- ments as a key to developing a basic level of communicative competence in con- texts identified as important to learners. This requires a clear understanding of how and when to use the utterances. We propose using a combination of language functions, topics, and sub-topics to clarify usage and support non-specialist com- munity members in using these for learning and teaching Mangarrayi.
- Documenting ritual songs: Best practices for preserving the ambiguity of Alto Perené (Arawak) shamanic pantsantsi ‘singing’ - May 1, 2019
Abstract: Drawing on extensive fieldwork, the paper explores the ways of interpreting and translating a shamanic pantsantsi song by a fieldworker and Alto Perené (a.k.a Ashéninka Perené) language workers. The language’s vitality is on a steep downward trajectory. Currently, it is spoken by a few hundred people. Aiming to create a thorough record of shamanic singing for the purpose of Alto Perené preservation, the fieldworker grapples with various stumbling blocks. Among them are the absence of shamans as an institution, the simulative setting of audio and video recordings, the inaccessibility of the text meanings to language consultants, and the non-definitiveness of the translated text. The shamanic language is manipulated in various ways to make it distinct from the profane speech of community members. The manipulative strategies include the singer’s allusions to the predation and conviviality schemes, prosodic repetitions, lexical and morphosyntactic manipulations, and voice masking. The meaning of the pantsantsi text eludes the non-indigenous fieldworker unless she collaborates with highly proficient language speakers, devotes many years to the committed study of the research language, possesses a good knowledge of the culture-specific background, and draws on multiple sources of translation.
- Interpreting language use in Ozelonacaxtla, Puebla, Mexico - March 1, 2019
Abstract: Despite sharing many cultural, historical, and socioeconomic characteristics, Totonac communities have markedly distinct language use patterns and practices. Some communities have adopted the mainstream hegemonic discourse in Mexico that denigrates indigeneity and subsequently abandoned Totonac (Lam 2009). In other communities, such as Ozelonacaxtla, an alternate discourse dominates that values multilingualism, and Totonac is widely spoken by the vast majority of the community. This variation across Totonac communities facing the same broad pressures to shift to Spanish demonstrates that current sociodemographic models of language shift lack significant predictive power. By examining not only sociodemographic factors, but also language ideology, this study seeks to determine whether and how language use in Ozeloancaxtla is qualitatively different in nature from other Totonac communities. Interpreting language use in Ozelonacaxtla is undertaken in the methodology of qualitative linguistic ethnography (Copland & Creese 2015). Results show that Ozelonacaxtla Totonac is currently used in almost all community and home domains; however some threats to continued sustainability are recognized. Three main language ideologies in Ozelonacaxtla are identified: (i) language is an index of identity, (ii) language is important/useful, and (iii) Totonac should not be lost. These main discourses are used by speakers to explain, justify, and contest language use patterns and practices, and significant differences in ideology are found across Totonac communities with contrasting language use. This demonstrates the importance of examining ideology in order to accurately interpret language use and best position potential efforts to support language sustainability, documentation, and revitalization.
- maqlaqsyalank hemyeega: Goals and expectations of Klamath-Modoc revitalization - March 1, 2019
Abstract: This paper documents a collaboration between the Klamath Tribes and the American Indian Language Development Institute (AILDI) focused on intra-community capacity-building and early stages of language planning through immersion activities, survey responses, and discussion of intra-community involvement. In December 2016, I facilitated a three-day maqlaqsyals (Klamath-Modoc language) immersion workshop, “maqlaqsyalank hemyeega”, on the Klamath reservation. Each day, immersion lessons focused on developing conversational use of maqlaqsyals between participants. During each lunch hour, participants shared personal goals and priorities regarding successful language revitalization. Ten tribal community members, including myself, made explicit their interest of sharing knowledge within the larger tribal community. Many of the workshop participants expressed the goal of using the language with their families while some participants expressed that the workshop had already helped them reach a personal goal in three days. Participants also discussed obtaining linguistic resources and establishing domains of language use. Understanding current interests of language in my tribal community provides early steps toward developing the framework of a “good linguist” in the maqlaqsyals revitalization movement.
- Towards an interdisciplinary bridge between documentation and revitalization: Bringing ethnographic methods into endangered-language projects and programming - February 1, 2019
Abstract: This paper addresses the gaps between language documentation and language revitalization. It is intended for several audiences, including field linguists interested in supporting endangered language sustainability efforts and participants of all kinds in language revitalization courses, programs, and infrastructure. The authors contend that ethnographic methods have transformative potential for contemporary language revitalization practice. Using anthropological tools, linguists and/or speech community members can enrich documentary efforts, mobilize linguistic data for more effective revitalization programs, and improve assessments of language revitalization projects. Beginning with a discussion of ethnographic methods and their connection to existing linguistic practices, this paper moves on to address the impact of language revitalization planning and infrastructure on endangered language use. It then outlines key ethnographic concepts that were identified as particularly useful in two pilot ethnographic methods classes run by the authors in 2015 and 2016, each of which can be operationalized using the basic tenets of participant observation. These concepts present ways of re-evaluating understandings of “communities”; considering language ideologies, ideological clarification, and language socialization; recognizing the nature and implications of different social roles and identities of those involved in revitalization projects; and attuning to genre and intertextuality in the development of resources. The incorporation of both basic ethnographic methodologies and of conceptual frames like these can supplement a field linguist’s or a language revitalization program’s tools to help them better collaborate across differences, support and assess language programs, and understand the obstacles that may exist between them, their collaborators, and sustainable language vitality.
- The languages of northern Ambrym, Vanuatu: A guide to the deposited materials in ELAR - February 1, 2019
Abstract: This paper gives a detailed overview of the archived language documentation materials for the two languages spoken in northern Ambrym, Vanuatu: North Ambrym and Fanbyak. I discuss the speakers and the language situation in northern Ambrym to give readers an introduction to the culture of the area. The archived materials encompass five different research projects focusing on the two languages, including documentation and literacy development projects. Data collection, workflows, file-naming conventions, and community involvement are all discussed. The deposited materials are described along with overviews of the different genres, sub-genres, and keywords to enable users to navigate and discover relevant recordings.
- Accessing, managing, and mobilizing an ELAN-based language documentation corpus: the Kwaras and Namuti tools - February 1, 2019
Abstract: This paper introduces Kwaras and Namuti, two new tools for building, managing, accessing, and mobilizing ELAN-based language documentation corpora. Kwaras integrates WAV files, ELAN annotations, and document metadata into a web-based corpus, allowing immediate access to annotations and recordings. Namuti builds from Kwaras and enables different uses of language documentation products for different audiences and provides links from linguistic analyses to language documentation corpora. The main goal of these new tools is three-fold: (i) to facilitate the use of language documentation in linguistic analysis; (ii) to increase transparency of documentation-based analyses, providing interested users full access to the data on which generalizations are based and contextualization of the projects that generated the data; and (iii) to enable uses of language corpora that may serve the interests of multiple stakeholders, including academic researchers and community members interested in language maintenance and revitalization. We provide a basic overview of how Kwaras and Namuti work, lay out instructions on how to download and use Kwaras, and discuss what uses it currently supports. This article also issues a call for increased collaboration between linguists, community members, language activists, and software developers to further develop these and other similar resources.
- Notes from the Field: Remontado (Hatang-Kayi): A Moribund Language of the Philippines - February 1, 2019
Abstract: Nearly half a century has passed since Philippine educator Teodoro Llamzon discovered the Remontado language, which would be introduced to the world in a master’s thesis written by his student Pilar Santos. Although data from the wordlists they collected have been included in subsequent publications by several other authors, no one had revisited the language community, let alone collected any additional data on this highly-endangered language, prior to the current authors. This article presents updated information on the language community, the current state of the language, and a revised description of the various grammatical subsystems of the language, including its verbal morphology. Also included are over 400 audio recordings illustrating basic aspects of the phonology as well as the various functor sets and verb forms, and a short text for comparison with other similar language sketches.
- Developing an Audio-visual Corpus of Scottish Gaelic - December 1, 2018
Abstract: Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic language spoken primarily in the western regions of Scotland, is experiencing sustained contraction in its geographical extent and domains of use. Native speakers of the language are mostly over 40, and relatively few children are acquiring the language in the home. In the media, Gaelic is typically represented by a standardized form, and children learning the language through Gaelic-medium education – currently the only demographic where Gaelic is expanding – tend to acquire a standardized form of the language as well. Consequently, the rich regional diversity Gaelic once displayed has been considerably reduced in recent decades, and is likely to suffer further significant losses within the next generation. There is an imperative, therefore, to create a record of the surviving diversity within the language, focusing most urgently on remaining speakers of dialects most at risk. In this paper, we describe our ongoing efforts to develop an audio-video corpus of Gaelic which represents as diverse a range of Gaelic dialects as possible, with particular attention to those varieties most immediately at risk of loss. The corpus contains material collected over the past four years through extensive fieldwork among historically Gaelic-speaking communities in the Scottish Highlands and Islands.
- Working with ‘Women Only’: Gendered protocols in the digitization and archiving process - December 1, 2018
Abstract: Gender is a significant social category that needs to be taken into consideration when working with Australian Aboriginal communities. Whilst archives hold knowledge systems that encode cultural practices of huge importance to current Australian Indigenous language revitalization projects, women have often been marginalized and excluded due to culturally inappropriate practices of collection, storage, and access. As women working in an archive, the authors provide a gendered perspective on the development of workflow processes that have the potential to re-orientate the relationship with endangered language communities and contribute to the negotiation of agency for Aboriginal women in the archival space. This paper draws on the experience of an Australian archiving service involved in a partnership with an Aboriginal organization to digitize resources and facilitate their return to the originating communities. As part of the partnership, tapes of women’s songs from central Australia were digitized using the skills of a female audio engineer. The paper argues that utilizing a female chain of linguist, anthropologist, musicologist, data administrator, and audio engineer in a participatory loop empowered the women in community to make choices knowing that their cultural property was being handled with respect and in a culturally appropriate manner.
- Documenting a language with phonemic and phonetic variation: the case of Enets - December 1, 2018
Abstract: This paper describes phonemic and phonetic variation attested in Enets, a highly endangered Uralic language of Northern Siberia. This variation is worth describing for three reasons. First of all, it is a part of documenting phonology of this disappearing language. Second, it is extremely frequent and widespread, including most words of the lexicon, but at the same time it does not visibly correlate with any social parameters, so this is one more case study in the vein of the sociolinguistic agenda set by Dorian (2001; 2010). Third, the Enets variation presents a challenge for consistent transcription, let alone an orthography design. These three reasons structure the paper: after an introductory section on the Enets community, languages used in the community in past and present, methodology of this study, and phonological profile of Enets, I proceed to a phonological description of the variation (section 2), to sociolinguistic details of this variation (section 3), and finally to issues of representation of the Enets data in a vain search for a perfect orthography for the language (section 4). Crucially, the last reason was the driving force for this research in the first place, as “[c]reating a phonemic orthography implies at least a basic phonological analysis preceding its design” (Jany 2010:234) and “faulty phonological analyses give rise to faulty orthographies” (Rehg 2004:506). Being neither a phonetician, nor a phonologist, I had initially aimed only for a basic description of sound patterns for the sake of an orthography; however, it quickly became evident that the puzzle of variation in Enets was not to be taken lightly, and more specific research was conducted. However, despite all the work done, I still see the results rather as a grounding for a consistent transcription/orthography than as a full phonological description. For the latter, Enets is still awaiting a talented phonologist, while our documentation project aimed hard to preserve exemplars of Enets sounds for this purpose (see Khanina 2017 for details).
- Review of The Traditional Ecological Knowledge of the Solega: A Linguistic Perspective - December 1, 2018
- A Guide to the Documentation of the Beth Qustan Dialect of the Central Neo-Aramaic Language Turoyo - September 1, 2018
Abstract: The main aim of language documentation is to create a long-lasting multipurpose record that captures the wealth of linguistic practices of a speech community. The purpose is to reflect traditions, customs, culture, civilization, etc. This article defines, navigates and provides insights into the contents of one particular language documentation project, namely the “Documentation of the Beth Qustan Dialect of the Central Neo-Aramaic Language Turoyo”. The documentation of Turoyo was funded by the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (ELDP), at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. All the materials collected have been archived with the Endangered Languages Archive (ELAR), at SOAS, University of London. The materials held are digital and they are freely available to all users of ELAR at https://elar.soas.ac.uk/Collection/MPI1035085.
- Simultaneous Visualization of Language Endangerment and Language Description - September 1, 2018
Abstract: The world harbors a diversity of some 6,500 mutually unintelligible languages. As has been increasingly observed by linguists, many minority languages are becoming endangered and will be lost forever if not documented. Urgently indeed, many efforts are being launched to document and describe languages. This undertaking naturally has the priority toward the most endangered and least described languages. For the first time, we combine world-wide databases on language description (Glottolog) and language endangerment (ElCat, Ethnologue, UNESCO) and provide two online interfaces, GlottoScope and GlottoVis, to visualize these together. The interfaces are capable of browsing, filtering, zooming, basic statistics, and different ways of combining the two measures on a world map background. GlottoVis provides advanced techniques for combining cluttered dots on a map. With the tools and databases described we seek to increase the overall knowledge of the actual state language endangerment and description worldwide.
- Integrating Automatic Transcription into the Language Documentation Workflow: Experiments with Na Data and the Persephone Toolkit - September 1, 2018
Abstract: Automatic speech recognition tools have potential for facilitating language documentation, but in practice these tools remain little-used by linguists for a variety of reasons, such as that the technology is still new (and evolving rapidly), user-friendly interfaces are still under development, and case studies demonstrating the practical usefulness of automatic recognition in a low-resource setting remain few. This article reports on a success story in integrating automatic transcription into the language documentation workflow, specifically for Yongning Na, a language of Southwest China. Using Persephone, an open-source toolkit, a single-speaker speech transcription tool was trained over five hours of manually transcribed speech. The experiments found that this method can achieve a remarkably low error rate (on the order of 17%), and that automatic transcriptions were useful as a canvas for the linguist. The present report is intended for linguists with little or no knowledge of speech processing. It aims to provide insights into (i) the way the tool operates and (ii) the process of collaborating with natural language processing specialists. Practical recommendations are offered on how to anticipate the requirements of this type of technology from the early stages of data collection in the field.
- Seeing Speech: Ultrasound-based Multimedia Resources for Pronunciation Learning in Indigenous Languages - June 1, 2018
Abstract: Pronunciation is an important aspect of Indigenous language learning, and one which requires creative community-oriented solutions. Towards this end, we have developed a pronunciation learning tool that incorporates ultrasound technology to give learners a visual aid to help them articulate unfamiliar and/or challenging sounds. Ultrasound is used to create videos of a model speaker’s tongue movements during speech, which are then overlaid on videos of an external profile view of the model’s head to create ultrasound-enhanced pronunciation videos for individual words or sounds. A key advantage of these videos is that learners are able see how speech is produced rather than just hear and try to mimic it. Although ultrasound-enhanced videos were originally developed for commonly taught languages such as Japanese and French, there has been widespread interest from Indigenous communities in Western Canada to develop their own customized videos. This paper reports on three collaborations between linguists and communities in British Columbia to develop ultrasound-enhanced videos for the SENOEN, Secwepemc, and Halq’emeylem languages. These videos can give learners a new way to learn pronunciation that focuses on seeing speech, and can create new documentation of understudied sound systems for future generations.
- The Blackfoot Language Resources and Digital Dictionary project: Creating integrated web resources for language documentation and revitalization - June 1, 2018
Abstract: This paper describes ongoing work to create a suite of integrated web resources in support of Blackfoot language documentation, maintenance, and revitalization efforts. Built around a digital dictionary, the website also contains grammar sketches, a library of other language-related resources, and a story archive. The project began its life as advocacy research (i.e., a digital repatriation project) but developed into empowerment research through community participation. The first phase consisted of back-digitization of an existing print dictionary. The second phase, which is ongoing, works toward making the dictionary user-friendly for speakers, learners, and teachers, and embedding it in a website that contains supporting content. Key features are developed collaboratively with Blackfoot community members. In order to create an environment in which all participants are equally empowered to help shape the project, a Participatory Action Research approach was adopted for the second phase of teamwork. This resulted in important new priorities for presentation, content, and enhancement of features. It has also had impact on the participants themselves, who developed awareness and new relationships as well as acquiring new skills and knowledge, which for some contributed to new jobs and academic directions. Finally, the project is producing new material to address existing research questions and generating new questions for future research projects.
- Discourses of speakerhood in Iyasa: Linguistic identity and authenticity in an endangered language - June 1, 2018
Abstract: Within most subfields of linguistics, the term “speaker” is often used in a shorthand, nonspecific way. In referring simply to “speakers” of endangered languages, the nuances of proficiency, language use, self-identification, and local language ideologies are collapsed into a binary: speaker vs. non-speaker. Despite the central role of local language ideologies in shaping patterns of language shift and maintenance, insiders’ perceptions of speaker status are not often investigated as part of language documentation projects. This paper approaches the issue of speaker status in Iyasa, a threatened Coastal Bantu language of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, through the firsthand accounts of self-identified Iyasa speakers. Using a discourse-analytic approach and the framework of identity and interaction (Bucholtz & Hall 2005), this paper examines the ways Iyasa speakers construct “speakerhood” in discourse, respond to researchers’ language ideologies, and position their own and others’ proficiency in Iyasa. Local language ideologies which equate ruralness, elderliness, and authenticity are discussed, as well as their links to similar ideologies in linguistics. Finally, the implications for language documentation and maintenance work in the Iyasa community are discussed.
- A Guide to the Syuba (Kagate) Language Documentation Corpus - April 1, 2018
Abstract: This article provides an overview of the collection “Kagate (Syuba)”, archived with both the Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures (PARADISEC) and the Endangered Language Archive (ELAR). It provides an overview of the materials that have been archived, as well as details of the workflow, conventions used, and structure of the collection. It also provides context for the content of the collection, including an overview of the language context, and some of the motivations behind the documentation project. This article thus provides an entry point to the collection. The future plans for the collection – from the perspectives of both the researcher and Syuba speakers – are also outlined, but with the overwhelming majority of items in the collection available to others, it is hoped that this article will encourage use of the materials by other researchers.
- Review of Lakota Grammar Handbook : a pedagogically orientated self-study reference and practice book for beginner to upper-intermediate students - April 1, 2018
- Single-event Rapid Word Collection workshops: Efficient, effective, empowering - March 1, 2018
Abstract: In this paper we describe single-event Rapid Word Collection (RWC) workshop results in 12 languages, and compare these results to fieldwork lexicons collected by other means. We show that this methodology of collecting words by semantic domain by community engagement leads to obtaining more words in less time than conventional collection methods. Factors contributing to high and low net word senses are summarized, addressed, and suggestions given for increasing effectiveness of the RWC procedures. Relevant points are illustrated in detail using a 2015 Natügu [ntu] RWC workshop in the Solomon Islands. We conclude that the advantages of the single-event RWC workshop strategy warrant recommending it as best practice in lexicographic fieldwork for minority languages.
- Kratylos: A tool for sharing interlinearized and lexical data in diverse formats - March 1, 2018
Abstract: In this paper we present Kratylos, at www.kratylos.org, a web application that creates searchable multimedia corpora from data collections in diverse formats, including collections of interlinearized glossed text (IGT) and dictionaries. There exists a crucial lacuna in the electronic ecology that supports language documentation and linguistic research. Vast amounts of IGT are produced in stand-alone programs without an easy way to share them publicly as dynamic databases. Solving this problem will not only unlock an enormous amount of linguistic information that can be shared easily across the web, it will also improve accountability by allowing us to verify analyses across collections of primary data. We argue for a two-pronged approach to sharing language documentation, which involves a popular interface and a specialist interface. Finally, we briey introduce the potential of regular expression queries for syntactic research.
- Forced Alignment for Understudied Language Varieties: Testing Prosodylab-Aligner with Tongan Data - March 1, 2018
Abstract: Automated alignment of transcriptions to audio files expedites the process of preparing data for acoustic analysis. Unfortunately, the benefits of auto-alignment have generally been available only to researchers studying majority languages, for which large corpora exist and for which acoustic models have been created by large-scale research projects. Prosodylab-Aligner (PL-A), from McGill University, facilitates automated alignment and segmentation for understudied languages. It allows researchers to train acoustic models using the same audio files for which alignments will be created. Those models can then be used to create time-aligned Praat TextGrids with word and phone boundaries marked. For the benefit of others who wish to use PL-A for research projects, this paper reports on our use of PL-A on Tongan field recordings, reviewing the software, outlining required steps, and providing tips. Since field recordings often contain more background noise than the laboratory recordings for which PL-A was designed, the paper also discusses the relative benefits of removing background noise for both training and alignment purposes. Finally, it compares acoustic measures based on various alignments and compares boundary placements with those of human aligners, demonstrating that automated alignment is both feasible and less time-consuming than manual alignment.
- Orthography development for Darma (The case that wasn’t) - February 1, 2018
Abstract: As the discipline of language documentation and description evolves, so do the expectations placed on researchers. Current trends emphasize collaborative efforts that prioritize tangible contributions to the community, such as a pedagogical grammar, dictionary, or collection of texts. Some argue that for unwritten languages orthography development is imperative so that materials prepared by the researcher (perhaps in collaboration with the community) are accessible to speakers. In light of the current discussions of methodology and ethical issues related to endeavors to document and describe the world’s languages, this paper explores the challenges faced by a single researcher (the author) working on a single language (Darma) within a multilingual setting (in India). This project emphasizes ethnographic and discourse-centered research methodologies which reveal language ideologies that are discussed here to demonstrate that while orthography development is a reasonable objective in many cases, one must be sensitive to a variety of interconnecting issues including history, social relationships, language ideology, and local politics associated with writing and education. While orthography development has not been a viable option in the Darma Documentation and Description Project, it is nevertheless a matter that needs to be addressed for the benefit of the community as well as ongoing discussions of methodology and best practices in linguistic and anthropological research.
- Contact languages around the world and their levels of endangerment - February 1, 2018
Abstract: This paper provides an up-to-date report on the vitality or endangerment status of contact languages around the world, including pidgins, creoles, and mixed languages. By utilizing information featured in the Endangered Languages Project and the Atlas of Pidgin and Creole Languages online portals, 96 contact languages are assessed on the Language Endangerment Index, a method of assessment that is based on four factors including intergenerational transmission, absolute number of speakers, speaker number trends, and domains of use. Results show that the contact languages are most at risk with respect to intergenerational transmission and domains of use. This is explained by the social and historical nature of contact languages. Overall results further raise the concern that the proportion of pidgins, creoles and mixed languages at some level of risk is extremely high. Reasons are provided for why linguists should be concerned about the endangerment of these languages.
- Review of Tone in Yongning Na: Lexical tones and morphotonology (Studies in Diversity Linguistics 13) - February 1, 2018
- The endangered state of Negidal: A field report - February 1, 2018
Abstract: Negidal is a Northern Tungusic language closely related to Evenki with two recognized dialects, Upper and Lower Negidal. This nearly extinct language used to be spoken in the Lower Amur region of the Russian Far East by people whose traditional way of life was based on fishing and hunting. While the number of remaining active speakers of Upper Negidal was more or less known, the current state of Lower Negidal was still uncertain. We here report on a trip to ascertain the state of Lower Negidal and give a precise assessment of the linguistic situation of both dialects. While the Upper dialect is still represented by seven elderly female speakers, varying in proficiency from fully fluent to barely able to produce a narrative, not a single active speaker of Lower Negidal is left. The language will therefore probably be extinct in the next decade or two.
- Notes from the field: Another moribund language of Indonesia, with supporting audio - December 1, 2017
Abstract: This paper consists of a short multimedia introduction to Lolak, a near-extinct Greater Central Philippine language traditionally spoken in three small communities on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. In addition to being one of the most underdocumented languages in the area, it is also spoken by one of the smallest native speaker populations in northern Sulawesi. Included in this overview are over 500 recordings of words and phrases pronounced by one of the oldest and most fluent speakers of the language, illustrating its phoneme system, grammatical subsets, and system of verbal affixation.
- Mapping Dialectal Variation Using the Algonquian Linguistic Atlas - December 1, 2017
Abstract: The Algonquian Linguistic Atlas (www.atlas-ling.ca) is an online multimedia linguistic atlas of Algonquian languages in Canada, built based on a template of conversational topics. It includes Algonquian languages primarily from the Cree-Innu-Naskapi continuum, but also from Blackfoot, Mi’kmaw, and Ojibwe (including Algonquin), with other languages in progress. In this paper we discuss how the data collected for the Algonquian Linguistic Atlas was used to conduct a bottom-up study of dialectal boundaries in Cree-Innu-Naskapi and their degree of relatedness to neighboring Algonquian languages. By studying the coincidence of phonological, lexical, grammatical, syntactic, and semantic isoglosses drawn from the Atlas data, we hope to show the research potential coming out of tools developed for pedagogical purposes. This research can in turn further guide the development of new terminology and more pedagogical resources, as well as lead to better understanding of dialectal differences and similarities across the language family.
- Review of Sustainable Futures for Music Cultures: An Ecological Perspective - December 1, 2017
- Building Tone Resources for Second Language Learners from Phonetic Documentation: Cherokee Examples - November 1, 2017
Abstract: Lexical tone is a linguistic feature which can present difficulties for second language learners wanting to revitalize their heritage language. This is true not only from the standpoint of understanding and pronunciation, but also because tone is often under-documented and resources are limited or too technical to be useful to community members. Even with these challenges, carefully attending to the intricacies of a language’s sound system allows learners to express themselves more “authentically” or “naturally,” which can be important for confidence and acceptance as language users. Learners can be trained to distinguish tones by attending to acoustic or auditory cues related to tone (e.g., pitch contour). This paper describes multimedia resources designed to focus learner attention on perceiving tone -- visual and audio accompaniments helping to increase the perception of tone in Cherokee, a severely endangered Native American language. We created resources for tone in the form of an electronic presentation containing explanations, example recordings, and intuitive images to provide audio and visual support for language learners. Presentation and format choices were collaboratively designed based on community requests, with an explicit attempt to de-jargonize materials and make them less technical and more accessible to community members.
- Liinnaqumalghiit: A web-based tool for addressing orthographic transparency in St. Lawrence Island/Central Siberian Yupik - September 1, 2017
Abstract: We present an initial web-based tool for St. Lawrence Island/Central Siberian Yupik, an endangered language of Alaska and Russia. This work is supported by the local language community on St. Lawrence Island, and includes an orthographic utility to convert from standard Latin orthography into a fully transparent representation, a preliminary spell checker, a Latin-to-Cyrillic transliteration tool, and a preliminary Cyrillic-to-Latin transliteration tool. Also included is a utility to convert from standard Latin orthography into both IPA and Americanist phonetic notation. Our utility is also capable of explicitly marking syllable boundaries and stress in the standard Latin orthography using the conventions of Jacobson (2001), as well as in Cyrillic and in standard IPA notation. These tools are designed to facilitate the digitization of existing Yupik resources, facilitate additional linguistic field work, and most importantly, bolster efforts by the local Yupik communities in the U.S. and in Russia to promote Yupik usage and literacy, especially among Yupik youth.
- Choguita Rarámuri (Tarahumara) language description and documentation: a guide to the deposited collection and associated materials - August 1, 2017
Abstract: Choguita Rarámuri (Tarahumara) is a Uto-Aztecan language spoken in Northern Mexico of great typological, theoretical, and historical significance. This paper presents an overview and background of the Choguita Rarámuri language description and documentation project and provides a guide to the documentary collection emerging from this project. This collection, deposited in the Endangered Languages Archive, is the result of collaboration with community members with the long-term goals of aiding in language preservation efforts and the development of a reference grammar of the language. While the production of linguistic analysis in the form of the reference grammar and other publications motivates a significant amount of the documentary corpus, the collection was also theorized from the perspective of a variety of audiences and provides an example of community-based design of documentary materials. This paper provides details on the development of the project, which allows readers to contextualize the scope and nature of the resulting corpus. This paper also discusses current restrictions on access to the collection, as well as an overview of existing associated materials and work underway that seeks to provide direct links between the deposited collection and products of linguistic analysis.
- Losing a Vital Voice: Grief and Language Work - August 1, 2017
Abstract: Working with speakers of endangered languages often involves developing a deep rapport with the eldest members of a community. These relationships present unique challenges that include navigating great losses – not only of the language of study, but, more profoundly, the attendant death of its speakers. This essay is motivated by the recognition that the death of close consultants is inherent in work with endangered languages. It draws on case study examples to examine the emotional components of language work, specifically grief and loss, from both personal and professional perspectives. Our focus is on two key issues. The first is as a methodological issue that arises for those operating under a collaborative model of language work where investment by the community and participatory research by the fieldworker is the norm. The second is as a training issue involving our responsibilities to those we mentor in understanding the reality of close work with speakers, particularly of endangered languages. This reality includes careful consideration of their families and communities. Our hope is that this essay may serve as a foundation upon which a more thorough consideration of methodological issues and preparation through honest and open approaches to training can be constructed.
- Linguistic Vitality, Endangerment, and Resilience - August 1, 2017
Abstract: The concept of “resilience” originated in both ecology and psychology, and refers to the propensity of a system or entity to “bounce back” from a disturbance. Recently, the concept has found increasing application within linguistics, particularly the study of endangered languages. In this context, resilience is used to describe one aspect of long-term, cyclical changes in language vitality. Proponents of “resilience linguistics” argue that understanding long-term patterns of language vitality can be of use in fostering resilience in, and therefore maintenance of, endangered languages. This article takes a critical look at these proposals, based on the examination of long-term trends in the Monguor and Saami languages.
- Putting practice into words: The state of data and methods transparency in grammatical descriptions - June 6, 2017
Abstract: Language documentation and description are closely related practices, often performed as part of the same fieldwork project on an un(der)-studied language. Research trends in recent decades have seen a great volume of publishing in regards to the methods of language documentation, however, it is not clear that linguists' awareness of the importance of robust data-collection methods is translating into transparency about those methods or data citation in resultant publications. We analyze 50 dissertations and 50 grammars from a ten-year span (2003-2012) to assess the current state of the field. Publications are critiqued on the basis of transparency of data collection methods, analysis and storage, as well as citation of primary data. While we found examples of transparent reporting in these areas, much of the surveyed research does not include key information about methodology or data. We acknowledge that descriptive linguists often practice good methodology in data collection, but as a field we need to build a better culture with regard to making this clear in research writing. Thus we conclude with suggested benchmarks for the kind of information we believe is vital for creating a rich and useful research methodology in both long and short format descriptive research writing.
- Motivating the documentation of the verbal arts: Arguments from theory and practice - June 1, 2017
Abstract: For language documentation to be sufficiently extensive to cover a given community’s language practices (cf. Himmelmann 1998), then including verbal arts is essential to ensure the richness of that comprehensive record. The verbal arts span the creative and artistic uses of a given language by speakers, such as storytelling, songs, puns and poetry. In this paper, I demonstrate the significance of verbal arts documentation in three other ways. Drawing from Indigenous language community contexts in the United States, I describe how the verbal arts are relevant to linguistic theory, revitalization and training. First, the influence by verbal arts on phonological theory is attested, affirming that the collection and analysis of verbal arts data plays a significant role in the phonological analysis of a given language and in theories of phonology. Second, the verbal arts generate extremely useful examples in training models for language work, since such examples can be used to cultivate phonological awareness in learners and teachers. Third, the verbal arts provide culturally meaningful materials for language revitalization.
- New Technologies, Same Ideologies: Learning from Language Revitalization Online - June 1, 2017
Abstract: Ease of access, production, and distribution have made online technologies popular in language revitalization. By incorporating multimodal resources, audio, video, and games, they attract indigenous communities undergoing language shift in hopes of its reversal. However, by merely expanding language revitalization to the web, many language learning websites often include already existing language ideologies seen in existing resources. Many of the ideologies reported for Native North American languages can be harmful to language maintenance. In particular, such problems as limited social ecology of language use, elder purism, reliance on memorization, and others have been widely reported to be the “stumbling blocks” in language revitalization. Through examining different types of Algonquian websites, this study demonstrates that these language ideologies are not unique to classroom instruction but often are reiterated online. The unique advantage of the online resources, however, is their flexibility and diversity which allow language revitalization workers to implement many different instructional designs. In appealing to different types of learners through using various types of language instruction, some online language learning resources can not only diversify language learning but also re-contextualize the indigenous language. The online space becomes a useful tool for supplying alternative teaching materials, histories, and contexts. Through such representation of the language, this study argues, online language revitalization can engage a wider audience and fulfill the goals of cultural revival. This study recommends broadening the contextual instructions, various procedures, and including more language learners in the creation of the materials.
- Earbuds: A Method for Analyzing Nasality in the Field - March 1, 2017
Abstract: Existing methods for collecting and analyzing nasality data are problematic for linguistic fieldworkers: aerodynamic equipment can be expensive and difficult to transport, and acoustic analyses require large amounts of optimally-recorded data. In this paper, a highly mobile and low-cost method is proposed. By connecting low impedance earbuds into a microphone jack of a recording device and placing one earbud immediately below one nostril while keeping the other earbud by the mouth, it is possible to capture the relative intensity of sound exiting the nasal and oral cavities. The two channels can then be normalized to assess the relative prominence of nasality and orality in a given speech sound. This method can not only be used to establish whether nasality is present in a speech signal, but it can also provide information about the timing and duration of nasal gestures. As such, it is an ideal tool for collecting high-quality nasality data in the field.
- The Founding of Language Documentation & Conservation - March 1, 2017
Abstract: The Founding Editor's reflection on a decade of LD&C.
- Toward a linguistically realistic assessment of language vitality: The case of Jejueo - March 1, 2017
Abstract: The assessment of language endangerment requires accurate estimates of speaker populations, including information about the proficiency of different groups within those populations. Typically, this information is based on self-assessments, a methodology whose reliability is open to question. We outline an approach that seeks to improve the accuracy of self-assessment by exposing participants to a simple linguistic task before they render their judgments. The viability of the approach is evaluated with the help of a case study involving 81 partial speakers of Jejueo, a critically endangered Koreanic language.
- The IATH ELAN Text-Sync Tool: A Simple System for Mobilizing ELAN Transcripts On- or Off-Line - March 1, 2017
Abstract: In this article we present the IATH ELAN Text-Sync Tool (ETST; see http://community.village.virginia.edu/etst), a series of scripts and workflow for playing ELAN files and associated audiovisual media in a web browser either on- or off-line. ELAN has become an indispensable part of documentary linguists’ toolkit, but it is less than ideal for mobilizing the transcribed media it allows linguists to create when they have reason to display these materials in non-research settings where linguists are not the primary audience. In conjunction with display of a video or audio file, ETST plays tiers of transcript for overlapping speech, along with optional glosses, and distinguishes speakers with participant codes. Using ETST requires no programming knowledge, but with some such knowledge the tool can be readily customized to suit users’ needs. To that extent, ETST is a simple browser-based transcript player that can be used either as is, “out of the box”, or as a basis for further development. We hope that ETST will be a helpful addition to documentary linguists’ repertoire of digital tools, making it easier for them to share materials with all those who have a stake in their research.
- Language Vitality among the Mako Communities of the Ventuari River - March 1, 2017
Abstract: Mako [ISO 639-3: wpc], a Sáliban language spoken along the Ventuari River in the Venezuelan Amazon, has been variably reported as (critically) endangered and threatened. These reports, however, are based on second-hand information and/or self-reported census data. In this article, I present a vitality assessment of Mako that relies on first-hand fieldwork data from 20 communities in the Middle Ventuari River area. The analysis of the data -- collected through interviews, community censuses, and participant observation between 2012 and 2014 -- shows that the situation is not as dire as previously reported and that the language is very vital in its local context. I also show that the place of Mako in the regional and national contexts put it in a vulnerable position and that steps should be taken to ensure its presence in new domains of use. Methodologically, I show the importance -- and argue in favor -- of including data from long-term participant observation in analyses and reports of linguistic vitality because of the access this methodology provides to tacit knowledge about language use and attitudes. This work thus contributes both to our understanding of language vitality among the Mako communities and to discussions of best practices in language vitality assessments.
- Some principles for language names - March 1, 2017
Abstract: Linguists are sometimes confronted with choices concerning language names. For example, one and the same language may be referred to as Persian or Farsi. This short paper discusses some principles that one might use for making decisions when there are variant forms in use, or when one feels that none of the existing names is appropriate. The principles discussed here arose from work on Glottolog, an English-language database of the world’s languages (Glottolog.org), where each language has a single primary English name (though variant forms are of course included), and where the goal is to choose the best variant form as the primary name of the language. Whenever the question arises which variant name form to choose, the Glottolog editors are guided by these principles, so they are formulated in a prescriptive way, but with explanation and justification for each principle. It seems that the general issue is also quite important for language documenters, because the names of non-major languages are often not fully established yet, and naming decisions have to be made.
- LD&C possibilities for the next decade - March 1, 2017
Abstract: The Editor's overview of LD&C, what it has achieved and directions it is going in the future.
- ¿Por qué escribir en una lengua que (casi) nadie puede leer? Twitter y el desarrollo de literatura escrita - March 1, 2018
Abstract: El desarrollo de literatura en lenguas que no son usualmente escritas por sus hablantes puede confundirse con un problema circular. Por un lado, los escritores potenciales son renuentes en escribir en su propia lengua o se encuentran desmotivados de escribir en una lengua que casi nadie puede leer. Por otro lado, los hablantes pueden preguntarse ¿por qué aprender a leer una lengua de la cual no hay nada disponible para leer? Los escritores esperan contar con un número de lectores, mientras que los lectores esperan tener material para leer. En este artículo argumento que la plataforma Twitter puede ser utilizada efectivamente para apoyar el florecimiento de escritores de lenguas de las cuales no hay lectores actuales, favoreciendo el equipo entre escritores y lectores voluntarios que no necesitan saber la lengua meta. Expongo un modelo para este tipo de trabajo, el cual puede ser una manera efectiva para los lingüistas y sus estudiantes y como apoyo a los activistas en lenguas indígenas.
- Bringing User-Centered Design to the Field of Language Archives - December 1, 2016
Abstract: This article describes findings from a workshop that initiated a dialogue between the fields of user-centered design (UCD) and language archives. One of the challenges facing language archives is the fact that they typically have multiple user groups with significantly different information needs, as well as varying cultural practices of data sharing, access and use. UCD, informed by design anthropology, can help developers of language archives identify the main user groups of a particular archive; work with those user groups to map their needs and cultural practices; and translate those insights into archive design. The article describes findings from the workshop on User-Centered Design of Language Archives in February 2016. It reviews relevant aspects of language archiving and user-centered design to construct the rationale for the workshop, relates key insights produced during the workshop, and outlines next steps in the larger research trajectory initiated by this workshop. One major insight from the workshop was the discovery that at present, most language archives are not meeting the needs of most users. Representatives from all user groups expressed frustration at the current design of most language archives. This discovery points to the value of introducing a user-centered approach, so that the design of language archives can be better informed by the needs of users.
- Collecting Texts in Endangered Languages: The Chickasaw Narrative Bootcamp - December 1, 2016
Abstract: While data collection early in the Americanist tradition included texts as part of the Boasian triad, later developments in the generative tradition moved away from narratives. With a resurgence of attention to texts in both linguistic theory and language documentation, the literature on methodologies is growing (i.e., Chelliah 2001, Chafe 1980, Burton & Matthewson 2015). We outline our approach to collecting Chickasaw texts in what we call a ‘narrative bootcamp.’ Chickasaw is a severely threatened language and no longer in common daily use. Facilitating narrative collection with elder fluent speakers is an important goal, as is the cultivation of second language speakers and the training of linguists and tribal language professionals. Our bootcamps meet these goals. Moreover, we show many positive outcomes to this approach, including a positive sense of language use and ‘fun’ voiced by the elders, the corpus expansion that occurs by collecting and processing narratives onsite in the workshop, and field methods training for novices. Importantly, we find the sparking of personal recollections facilitates the collection of heretofore unrecorded narrative genres in Chickasaw. This approach offers an especially fruitful way to build and expand a text corpus for small communities of highly endangered languages.
- Review of Corpus-based studies of lesser-described languages. The CorpAfroAs corpus of spoken AfroAsiatic languages - December 1, 2016
- Myaamiaataweenki eekincikoonihkiinki eeyoonki aapisaataweenki: A Miami Language Digital Tool for Language Reclamation - December 1, 2016
Abstract: In 1988, a young graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley began searching for materials on a little-known Algonquian language called Miami, which had ceased to be spoken sometime in the mid-twentieth century. Prompted by curiosity to describe this little-known language, the search uncovered two and a half centuries of documentation. This archival record would serve as the basis for the grammatical reconstruction of what is known today as the Miami-Illinois language, a central Algonquian language of the southern Great Lakes region. These materials are crucial not only to the reconstruction of Miami-Illinois, but also for the growing interests of Myaamia (Miami) people to reclaim their language and cultural heritage. The next twenty years proved to be a struggle in locating, duplicating, organizing and building a physical corpus of data for linguistic analysis and use in community revitalization. Language reconstruction from documentation requires tools for archival interaction and access that linguistically-based software and database applications lacked at the time. This prompted Myaamia researchers and language educators to seek out support for the construction of a digital archival database that met the needs of both tribal linguists and community culture and language revitalizationists. The first version of the Miami-Illinois Digital Archive (MIDA) became a reality in 2012 after support from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) was provided to Miami University’s Myaamia Center to develop this unique research tool. This paper describes the challenges of working with digitized archival materials and how MIDA has filled the software tool gap between archives, linguists and revitalizationists. The Miami-Illinois Digital Archive can be found at http://www.ilaatawaakani.org.
- The Value-Added Language Archive: Increasing Cultural Compatibility for Native American Communities - December 1, 2016
Abstract: Language archives represent a complicated theoretical and practical site of convergence for Native American language communities. In this article, I explore how functionality and operation of language archives are misaligned with core sociopolitical priorities for Native American tribes. In particular, I consider how the concept of cultural and political self-determination contextualizes lack of use or resistance to participation in language archiving projects. In addition to critical evaluation, I envision a dramatically expanded role for language archives, with the goal of increasing their cultural and political compatibility for Native American groups and beyond. I use the term, ‘value-added language archive’ to describe an archive with features and support services that address emergent needs of a diverse stakeholder community.
- An assessment of linguistic development in a Kaqchikel immersion school - December 1, 2016
Abstract: This paper discusses two assessments designed to evaluate the progress of students in the Kaqchikel immersion program at Nimaläj Kaqchikel Amaq’. Picture-naming production and comprehension tasks were used to test for proficiency in phonology and morphology as well as lexical acquisition. The tests targeted basic contrasts which are important to Kaqchikel grammatical structure. While students are still struggling with many aspects of the language such as the phonology and positional verbs, many are able to understand and use singular vs. plural intransitive verb morphology. Results are being used to improve the program and inform future methodological and curricular decisions.
- A tale of two worlds: A comparative study of language ecologies in Asia and the Americas - December 1, 2016
Abstract: Language use patterns of individual speech communities are largely conditioned by the different language ecologies in which they are immersed. We believe this ecological stance helps explain why minority languages of Asia are more likely to be sustainable than those in the Americas. We have identified fourteen traits which characterize ecologies in general, describing how they play out differently in the Americas versus Asia. Each trait is considered to be on a continuum, with opposing values that measure whether conditions are more or less favorable to language maintenance. On one side of the continuum, we discuss the values in the Americas, and explain how these are more favorable to language shift. On the other side of the scale, we talk about the values in Asia, and explain how these are more conducive to language maintenance. To show the application of these traits, the paper also includes two in-depth case studies as prototypical examples from each area, one from the Americas and one from Asia. We conclude with some comments about how these traits can be useful for those engaged in language development work.
- Bonggi language vitality and local interest in language-related efforts: A participatory sociolinguistic study - December 1, 2016
Abstract: In Sabah, as in the rest of Malaysia, many indigenous languages are threatened by language shift to (Sabah) Malay. The present study examines to what extent Bonggi, an Austronesian language spoken on Banggi Island (Sabah State), is affected by these developments. One research objective was to investigate Bonggi language vitality, and explore local (church) interest in and priorities for Bonggi language-related efforts. To minimize the influence of outside researchers, the methodological approach was based on a participatory approach to language development planning. A second objective was to examine the usefulness and appropriateness of the chosen approach. Regarding the first research objective, the findings suggest that Bonggi language vitality is still vigorous in more remote parts of the island, while language vitality is weaker in the areas closer to the main town of the island. At the same time bilingualism in (Sabah) Malay appears to be pervasive throughout the Bonggi speech community. The findings also indicate that interest in Bonggi language work is rather limited. A few Bonggi church communities, however, expressed interest in creating Bonggi songs. Concerning the second research objective, the review of the methodology shows that the chosen approach is not appropriate in the context of research-driven sociolinguistic studies.
- A Brief History of Archiving in Language Documentation, with an Annotated Bibliography - December 1, 2016
Abstract: We survey the history of practices, theories, and trends in archiving for the purposes of language documentation and endangered language conservation. We identify four major periods in the history of such archiving. First, a period from before the time of Boas and Sapir until the early 1990s, in which analog materials were collected and deposited into physical repositories that were not easily accessible to many researchers or speaker communities. A second period began in the 1990s, when increased attention to language endangerment and the development of modern documentary linguistics engendered a renewed and redefined focus on archiving and an embrace of digital technology. A third period took shape in the early twenty-first century, where technological advancements and efforts to develop standards of practice met with important critiques. Finally, in the current period, conversations have arisen toward participatory models for archiving, which break traditional boundaries to expand the audiences and uses for archives while involving speaker communities directly in the archival process. Following the article, we provide an annotated bibliography of 85 publications from the literature surrounding archiving in documentary linguistics. This bibliography contains cornerstone contributions to theory and practice, and it also includes pieces that embody conversations representative of particular historical periods.
- Animating Traditional Amazonian Storytelling: New Methods and Lessons from the Field - December 1, 2016
Abstract: In this paper I describe the development of digital animation of Desano traditional stories as a way to foster the inclusion of the Desano language in mainstream digital technology media, while promoting language maintenance and dissemination of cultural knowledge among youths and young adults. The project considers the shifting contexts in which many Desano people live in the contemporary period. Digital animated Desano stories provide important public, community, and scholarly validation for the language as living, dynamic, and vital. Qualitatively different from other written materials produced for the Desano communities, animated digital materials importantly make use of oral language (i.e., animation is accompanied by the original audio in Desano and Desano subtitles), thus exposing younger generations to the sounds and orthography of the language. Oral language-based resources via animation and narration of traditional stories can aid in the group’s language maintenance efforts as they reinforce the spoken language, familiarize the community with the orthography, and celebrate traditional knowledge.
- Ax toowú át wudikeen, my spirit soars: Tlingit direct acquisition and co-learning pilot project - September 1, 2016
Abstract: Many Indigenous languages, including Tlingit, are critically endangered and in urgent need of new adult speakers within the parent-aged generation. However, no consensus exists on language revitalization strategy, curricular design, lesson plans, assessment, or teaching methods. A small Tlingit cohort courageously developed and piloted a new curriculum and acquisition method by following a proven curricular design borrowed from an Interior Salish language, Nsyilxcn. This article introduces broad concepts such as the motivations behind language revitalization and quality immersion strategies for creating proficient speakers. It further describes recording techniques, the creation of sequenced curriculum designed for learners to raise each other up while teaching, and training learners to teach. It also presents a story of Tlingit language activism blended with Syilx language activism, specifically the direct acquisition method and its successful application by an adult cohort of beginner Tlingit learners.
- Notes from the Field: Ponosakan: The Sounds of a Silently Dying Language of Indonesia, with Supporting Audio - September 1, 2016
Abstract: Ponosakan is a near-extinct Greater Central Philippine language spoken on the large central Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Little has appeared in the literature about the language, which now has only four fully fluent speakers, ranging in age from 70 to 92 years old. The purpose of this paper is to present a brief introduction to the language, including its phoneme system and grammatical subsystems. Accompanying this paper are over 300 audio recordings, to give the world an opportunity to hear a language that is rarely spoken even in its traditional home.
- Why write in a language that (almost) no one can read? Twitter and the development of written literature - September 1, 2016
Abstract: The development of written literature in languages which are not usually written by their speakers can be confounded by a circular problem. Potential writers are reluctant or unmotivated to write in a language that no one can read. But at the same time, why learn to read a language for which there is nothing available to read? The writers wait for the readership, while the readers wait for material. In this paper I argue that Twitter can be used effectively to support burgeoning writers of languages for which no current readership exists by partnering writers with volunteer readers who do not need to know the target language. I lay out a model for this type of work that is an effective way for outside linguists and their students to support indigenous language activists. (For a Spanish translation of this article see http://hdl.handle.net/10125/24767).
- Documenting Hawai‘i’s Sign Languages - September 1, 2016
Abstract: The Sign Language Documentation Training Center (SLDTC) offers workshops and linguistic training to users of threatened sign languages: currently American Sign Language (ASL) and Hawai‘i Sign Language (HSL). This project originated as a spin-off of the Language Documentation Training Center (LDTC), launched in 2004 by graduate students in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Hawai‘i at Mnoa. In its third iteration, SLDTC has aimed to train users of threatened signed languages to document their own languages in ways that make the information useful for those interested in these languages. The SLDTC also aims to increase awareness of language endangerment and encourage signers to think critically about language revitalization, especially as it pertains to their own languages. The work has been rewarding, but not without its challenges, including technological and orthographic constraints, as well as the challenges of re-adapting spoken language materials for sign languages.
- Review of F4transkript, a simple interface for efficient annotation - September 1, 2016
- Mapmaking for Language Documentation and Description - June 1, 2016
Abstract: This paper introduces readers to mapmaking as part of language documentation. We discuss some of the benefits and ethical challenges in producing good maps, drawing on linguistic geography and GIS literature. We then describe current tools and practices that are useful when creating maps of linguistic data, particularly using locations of field sites to identify language areas/boundaries. We demonstrate a basic workflow that uses CartoDB, before demonstrating a more complex workflow involving Google Maps and TileMill. We also discuss presentation and archiving of mapping products. The majority of the tools identified and used are open source or free to use.
- Collaboration or Participant Observation? Rethinking Models of 'Linguistic Social Work' - June 1, 2016
Abstract: Documentary linguists aspiring to conduct socially responsible research find themselves immersed in a literature on ‘collaborative methods’ that does not address some of the most pressing interpersonal challenges that fieldworkers experience in their community relationships. As recent controversies about the nature of collaboration indicate, collaborative models embed assumptions about reciprocity, negotiation, and the meaning and moral valence of categories like ‘research,’ ‘language,’ and ‘documentation,’ which do not translate equally well across all communities. There is thus a need for a method flexible enough to respond to the complexity and diversity of what goes on in particular cross-cultural researcher-community relationships. In this article, we encourage documentary linguists to consider the benefits of participant observation, a research method that is designed specifically to deal with the interpersonal nature of fieldwork in the human sciences. Because it ties knowledge production directly to the development of social relationships across difference, participant observation can help documentary linguists think fruitfully about the social approaches they take in their fieldwork, whether these ultimately come to involve formal collaboration or some other form of reciprocity.
- Endangered Language Research and the Moral Depravity of Ethics Protocols - June 1, 2016
- Case Study: An Evaluation of Information and Communication Technology Use in Upriver Halq’eméylem Language Programs - June 1, 2016
Abstract: Indigenous communities are using information and communications technology (ICT) to document languages and to support language maintenance and revitalization activities. Both critical funding and effort goes into the development, deployment, and maintenance of ICT; however, the effectiveness of ICT is not always clearly understood. This case study examines how ICT has been incorporated into Upriver Halq’eméylem language programs. Participants indicated that ICT is being used successfully as a supplementary tool in coordination with specific learning strategies and activities such as story-telling, games, and looking up a word or concept. However, they indicated that ICT is not being used outside of those specific learning activities. The study indicates that ICT can be a valuable tool in the effort to revitalize a language; however, the type of ICT and how it is integrated into the program and community need to be carefully planned out. A list of key findings is provided.
- Testing mutual intelligibility between closely related languages in an oral society - June 1, 2016
Abstract: This paper describes a new methodology for testing intelligibility across closely related languages and dialects in a traditional oral society in Vanuatu. There are many reasons why it could be useful to establish how well speakers of related varieties can understand one another: such knowledge is relevant to language planning and policy making, and it can shed light on the dynamics of language contact. However, conventional approaches to intelligibility testing, such as ‘recorded text testing’ (Hickerton et al. 1952; Pierce 1952; Voegelin & Harris 1951), are time consuming to score, and difficult to implement consistently. In Europe, fast and efficient intelligibility testing has been successfully carried out across closely related varieties (cf. Vanhove 2014; Gooskens forthcoming; Schüppert & Gooskens 2011a, 2011b, inter alia). However, these methods assume that test subjects are literate and computer-savvy. The methodology discussed in the present paper adapts European methods to conventional ‘fieldwork’ conditions. In Vanuatu we piloted a picture task and a translation task. Although some words had to be removed from the final analysis, the experiment was successful overall and we anticipate that this method can be fruitfully applied in other oral language communities.
- Worlds of knowledge in Central Bhutan: Documentation of ’Olekha - March 1, 2016
Abstract: A re-emergence in language documentation has brought with it a recent recognition of the potential contributions which collaboration with other disciplines has to offer linguistics. For example, ten chapters of the recently published Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Fieldwork (Thieberger 2012) were explicitly devoted to cross-discipline collaboration. Among the topics covered were ethnomathematics, geography, astronomy, biology, and ethnobotany. Linguists who work in ethnobiology can make important observations about our interactions with the natural world, as has been persuasively argued by Si (2011). In a separate publication, Si (2013) shows that the Solega people of southern India possess an unusually rich knowledge of honeybees and their practices, despite not being beekeepers. Of course, the importance of these sorts of studies has been noted outside of linguistics for some time. The current study has grown from discussions with a biologist for a collaborative project.
- Language Acquisition and Language Revitalization - March 1, 2016
Abstract: Intergenerational transmission, the ultimate goal of language revitalization efforts, can only be achieved by (re)establishing the conditions under which an imperiled language can be acquired by the community’s children. This paper presents a tutorial survey of several key points relating to language acquisition and maintenance in children, focusing on four matters that are of direct relevance to work on language revitalization.
- A discourse-based approach to the language documentation of local ecological knowledge - March 1, 2016
Abstract: This paper proposes a discourse-based approach to the language documentation of local ecological knowledge (LEK). The knowledge, skills, beliefs, cultural worldviews, and ideologies that shape the way a community interacts with its environment can be examined through the discourse in which LEK emerges. ‘Discourse-based’ refers to two components: (1) the discovery and collection of LEK and its contexts through methods informed by the ethnography of communication, and (2) the analysis of speech that encodes LEK in the framework of Interactional Sociolinguistics. This discourse-based approach not only addresses the general need to accumulate more instances of speech (about LEK, or otherwise) in a documentary corpus, but also provides an analysis of the communicative event, one that sheds light on the dynamic nature of the content of that speech in the particular sociocultural context of that speech community, embedded in discursive moments. Fundamental to this approach is the need for collaboration across disciplines. This paper explores the links that can be made among the fields of language documentation, ethnobiology, and sociolinguistics. Taropwe ie e aweenenei ia usun iaash sipwé weewetei iaan arames kile are aweewen mé aitiitan masawan leeset, fanéú, mé fáán lááng—ie arames re kai úró ‘local ecological knowledge (LEK)’—ngé iaash weewetei mi alóngólóng óón iaan arames apworaus, are ‘discourse.’ Llan eeu mé eeu kinikinin shóón sóópw kewe, iaar túmwúnú meet masawan leeset, óón fanéú, are fáán lááng mi kan alóngólóng óón iaar kile, iaar féfféér, iaar lúúk, iaar weewe, o pwal iaar awennam, iwe ngé simi toonganei weewetei fishi iaan shóón sóópw kewe kile mé féfféér kare saa longeetei fishi are aúsaleng fishi nganei iaar kewe apworaus. Ei sokkon aweewe e alóngólóng óón ruwou kinikin: (1) eeu kinikin ewe re kai úró ‘the ethnography of communication’ (weewen, sipwé longeetei fishi meet mi ffis lúpwan arames raa kan kakkapas are apworaus fangan), ei mi ossen lómwót nganei iaash kaié nganei peekin LEK; o pwal (2) eeu kinikin ewe re kai úró ‘Interactional Sociolinguistcs’ (weewen, eeu sokkon aweewe e alóngolóng óón iaash sipwé longeetei fishi ttishikin me iáián kapas llan iaan arames kewe apworaus, ei mi ossen lómwót nganei peekin LEK). Ekkei sokkon kaié aa kan alapaala iaash weewetei iaan arames apworaus (usun LEK pwal ekkewe apworaus mé likin LEK) o aa kan pwal alúkkapaala iaash aweewe unusalapen masowan iaan arames apworaus. Emi aushea iaash sipwé angaang fangan reen iaash sipwé toonganei weewetei ekké sokkon apworaus. Ei taropwe e aweewenei lekóshun ekkei kinikinikin peekin kai\'e: language documentation, ethnobiology, mé sociolinguistics.
- Fieldwork Game Play: Masterminding Evidentiality in Desano - March 1, 2016
Abstract: In this paper, we propose a methodology for collecting naturally occurring data on evidentials and epistemic modals. We use Desano (Eastern Tukanoan) as a case study. This language has a complex evidential system with six evidential forms. The methodology in question consists of having Desano speakers to play a logic game, Mastermind. In this game one player (the codemaker) places colored pegs behind a screen and the other player (the codebreaker) tries to guess the code, receiving partial feedback from the codemaker through clues after each intermediate guess. In order to offset the unnaturalness of the codemaker’s exclusive knowledge of the actual code, we adapt the task to have two codebreakers playing the game jointly and discussing what they know, what the code could/must be, etc. We found that there are several benefits to this method. It provides naturalistic dialogue between multiple speakers, rather than just monologue; utterances naturally vary as to whether speakers in the scenario have access to and interest in what kind of information source the speaker has or simply the conclusion they draw from this information; finally, an important point is that speakers find the task enjoyable. We hope that this study can add the body of literature on methods for collecting naturalistic speech for language documentation and description.
- Review of Am Faclair Beag online Gaelic-English Dictionary - March 1, 2016
- Chirila: Contemporary and Historical Resources for the Indigenous Languages of Australia - March 1, 2016
Abstract: Here I present the background to, and a description of, a newly developed database of historical and contemporary lexical data for Australian languages (Chirila), concentrating on the Pama-Nyungan family (the largest family in the country). While the database was initially developed in order to facilitate research on cognate words and reconstructions, it has had many uses beyond its original purpose, in synchronic theoretical linguistics, language documentation, and language reclamation. Creating a multi-audience database of this type has been challenging, however. Some of the challenges stemmed from success: as the size of the database grew, the original data structure became unwieldy. Other challenges grew from the difficulties in anticipating future needs, in keeping track of materials, and in coping with diverse input formats for so many highly endangered languages. In this paper I document the structure of the database, provide an overview of its uses (both in diachronic and synchronic research), and discuss some of the issues that have arisen during the project and choices that needed to be made as the database was created, compiled, curated, and shared. I address here the major problems that arise with linguistic data, particularly databases created for diverse audiences, from diverse data, with little infrastructure support.
- Getting in Touch: Language and Digital Inclusion in Australian Indigenous Communities - December 1, 2015
Abstract: Indigenous people in remote Australia face many dilemmas in relation to the status and vitality of their languages and communication ecologies. Cultural leaders want to maintain endangered heritage languages, yet this concern is balanced against an awareness that English competency is a necessary life skill. Remote Indigenous groups must also negotiate the effect of globalized media on language and cultural practices. While public policy seeks to bridge the digital divide in remote Australia, little attention has been paid to the dominance of English in the new digital environment and the potential impact that increased English language activities may have on endangered Indigenous languages. In this paper we discuss the Getting in Touch project, a joint initiative between linguists, Australian Indigenous language speakers, and software developers. Using a participatory, collaborative process, the project aims to develop ideas for digital resources that privilege Indigenous languages and knowledge systems. We argue that taking Indigenous languages into account in app design may help enhance digital literacies in remote Indigenous communities and promote digital inclusion.
- Southern Ute Grassroots Language Revitalization - December 1, 2015
Abstract: Southern Ute is a severely endangered Uto-Aztecan language spoken in southwestern Colorado by forty speakers out of a tribe of around 1,400. In 2011, a small group of adult tribal members with a strong desire to learn Ute as a second language began a collaborative, community-based, grassroots language revitalization and repatriation project on the Southern Ute reservation. This case study provides insight into language endangerment and revitalization, language ideologies, linguistic identity, revitalization pedagogy, and language as power. During this project the group encountered challenges typical of endangered language revitalization such as lack of teaching material, the contradictory role of writing in gaining fluency in an endangered language, the transition of a speaker to a teacher, and differing views of effective language learning methods. A total of eighty-nine community members ranging in age from two to eighty-seven years participated in this project. The diversity of students created a pedagogical situation in which the range of objectives, learning styles, and interest levels required adaptation and flexibility. We discuss possible solutions to these challenges. We also provide insight into the tenacity of heritage language learners who continue to fight for linguistic self-determination and justice, even when faced with opposition from their tribal government and community.
- Language Research and Revitalization Through a Community-University Partnership: The Mi’gmaq Research Partnership - December 1, 2015
Abstract: This paper discusses a collaboration between a university linguistics department and an Indigenous community, with the joint aim to increase the vitality of, and knowledge about, Mi’gmaq (Eastern Algonquian). It describes the history of the language in the community and how the partnership was initially formed. It discusses several joint initiatives: the development of digital language-learning resources, a class curriculum, and the hosting of an intergenerational open language workshop in the community. The authors share the models of work and lessons that have influenced them as this partnership has grown.
- Review of Endangered languages and new technologies - December 1, 2015
- Assessing the Linguistic Vitality of Miqie: An Endangered Ngwi (Loloish) Language of Yunnan, China - September 1, 2015
Abstract: Language shift is the process by which a speech community in a contact situation gradually abandons one language in favor of another. Because the causal factors of language shift are largely social (Fishman 1991), languages, groups, and communities with diverse social situations can be expected to exhibit varying levels of language shift. This paper reports on the linguistic vitality of Miqie [ISO 639-3:yiq], an endangered Central Ngwi/Yi language of Yunnan, China, and identifies the social factors contributing to language shift. Findings from participant interviews in 11 village survey points show there are varying degrees of language endangerment, with intermarriage and access to a major road as primary indicators of shift. This paper evaluates different tools for assessing linguistic vitality and uses the Language Endangerment Index (Lee & Van Way in press) to assess Miqie language endangerment at the village level. Language shift information is essential in the description and documentation of a language, especially because the contexts in which the language is spoken may disappear faster than the language itself.
- A guide to the Ikaan language and culture documentation - September 1, 2015
Abstract: Language documentation collections contain valuable and unique resources on the languages and cultures of the people represented in the collection. To allow users to understand and use one particular collection, this article provides a guide to the language documentation project “Farming, food and yam: language and cultural practices among Ikaan speakers,” deposited in the Endangered Languages Archive. It gives a bird’s eye view of the collection, showing the project background, the conventions and workflows, and the structure and content of the resources. In addition, it provides a glimpse behind the scene, outlining motivations, observations, thoughts on the collection, and future plans. This article thus contextualizes the collection by placing it in its wider research and community context.
- Final Records of the Sambe Language of Central Nigeria: Phonology, noun morphology, and wordlist - September 1, 2015
Abstract: This paper presents all the available data on the Sambe language [xab], formerly spoken in a remote area of Central Nigeria. Two field trips were made, in 2001 and 2005, and a substantial wordlist was collected. By 2005, the two remaining informants were very old and it is presumed Sambe is no longer spoken. The speakers still retain their ethnic identity but today speak a dialect of Ninzo. Sambe is part of the little-known Alumic group of languages and its closest relative is Hasha. Alumic in turn is one subgroup of Plateau, itself a branch of Benue-Congo and thus part of Niger-Congo. Sambe has an extremely rich phonological inventory. Fossil prefixes show that it had a system of nominal affixing until recently, but this had become unproductive by the time the language was recorded.
- Review of Repertoires and Choices in African Languages - September 1, 2015
- Review of The Oxford handbook of linguistic fieldwork - June 1, 2015
- Review of the Marshallese-English Online Dictionary - June 1, 2015
- Tools for Analyzing Verbal Art in the Field - June 1, 2015
Abstract: Song is a universal human phenomenon that can shed much light on the nature of language. Despite this, field linguists are not always equipped with the knowledge and skills to analyze song texts and draw out their significances to other areas of language. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for a language community to ask linguists working in the field to record and document their songs. Barwick (2012) identifies a number of reasons why linguists should work on songs and identifies iTunes as a local repository for recordings of songs. This paper expands on these reasons and describes how iTunes software can be used for comparing, retrieving and managing recordings of songs. This not only assists analysis of song structure and text, but is also a useful means of providing the community with recordings, even in the absence of a local repository. The paper draws on our use of iTunes during fieldwork on central Australian Aboriginal songs. Our aim is to share the methodology and workflow we use and to encourage linguists to work on this universal, yet often neglected, aspect of language that is often highly valued within the language community.
- State-of-the-Art in the Development of the Lokono Language - June 1, 2015
Abstract: Lokono is a critically endangered Northern Arawakan language spoken in the peri-coastal areas of the Guianas (Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana). Today, in every Lokono village there remains only a small number of elderly native speakers. However, in spite of the ongoing language loss, across the three Guianas as well as in the Netherlands, where a number of expatriate Lokono live, language awareness is increasing and measures are being taken to develop the language. This paper employs the UNESCO’s language vitality framework to assess the Lokono situation. I give particular attention to the state-of-the-art in language development activities, including language documentation. The aim of this paper is to provide the readers with an updated picture of the Lokono sociolinguistic context in order to facilitate future work between the Lokono and the academic community.
- Designing a Dictionary for an Endangered Language Community: Lexicographical Deliberations, Language Ideological Clarifications - June 1, 2015
Abstract: Dictionaries of endangered languages represent especially important products of language documentation, in part because they are usually the most familiar and useful genre of linguistic representation to endangered language community members. This familiarity, however, can become problematic when it is accompanied by language ideologies that equate dictionaries with word lists (‘words for things’), prescriptive linguistics, and researchers’ neoliberal assumptions regarding the circulation of knowledge. Recent and ongoing research in the Village of Tewa (N. Arizona, Kiowa-Tanoan language family) designed to produce a practical dictionary in support of the community’s language renewal efforts provides some examples of the need to contextualize the project within the community and to understand the pervasive role of language ideologies when working collaboratively. This research project aims to promote and fortify lexical documentation so that the practical dictionary is an adequate guide for future community members, while still conforming to cultural protocols about lexical representation and circulation, both within and outside the language community.
- ‘Lone Wolves’ and Collaboration: A Reply to Crippen & Robinson (2013) - March 1, 2015
Abstract: In this reply to Crippen & Robinson’s (2013) contribution to Language Documentation & Conservation, we discuss recent perspectives on ‘collaborative’ linguistics and the many roles that linguists play in language communities. We question Crippen & Robinson’s characterization of the state of the field and their conclusions regarding the utility of collaborative fieldwork. We argue that their characterization of collaborative fieldwork is unrealistic and their complaints are based on a caricature of what linguists actually do when they work together with communities. We also question their emphasis on the ‘outsider’ linguist going into a community, given the increasing number of indigenous scholars working on their own languages and partnering with ‘outsider’ academics. We outline ways in which collaborative work does not compromise theoretical scholarship. Both collaborative and so-called ‘lone wolf’ approaches bring advantages and disadvantages to the linguist, but lone wolf linguistics can have considerable disadvantages to communities who are already excluded from research. Documentary linguists, as representatives of their profession, should make use of the most effective techniques they can, given that in many cases, that linguist’s work may well be the only lasting record of the language.
- Documentary Linguistics and Computational Linguistics: A response to Brooks - March 1, 2015
- Collaboration: A Reply to Bowern & Warner's Reply - March 1, 2015
- Collaborative Documentation and Revitalization of Cherokee Tone - March 1, 2015
Abstract: Cherokee, the sole member of the southern branch of Iroquoian languages, is a severely endangered language. Unlike other members of the Iroquoian family, Cherokee has lexical tone. Community members are concerned about the potential loss of their language, and both speakers and teachers comment on the difficulty that language learners have with tone. This paper provides a brief overview of Cherokee tone and describes the techniques, activities, and results from a collaborative project aimed at building greater linguistic capacity within the Cherokee community. Team members from Cherokee Nation, the University of Kansas, and the University of Oklahoma led a series of workshops designed to train speakers, teachers, and advanced language learners to recognize, describe, and teach tone and how to use this information to document Cherokee. Following a participatory approach to endangered language revitalization and training native speakers and second language users in techniques of linguistic documentation adds to the knowledge-base of the community and allows for the documentation process to proceed from a Cherokee perspective rather than a purely academic/linguistic one. This capacity-building aspect of the project could serve as a model for future collaborations between linguists, teachers, and speakers in other communities with endangered languages.
- May Sasabihin ang Kabataan ‘The Youth Have Something to Say’: Youth perspectives on language shift and linguistic identity - March 1, 2015
Abstract: This position paper brings youth perspectives to the forefront of academic discourse about language shift and linguistic identity, framed in the larger intersecting conversations about language endangerment, maintenance and revitalization, the breakdown and rebuilding of intergenerational transmission, and the changing late modern landscapes in which youth linguistic identities emerge. At the core of this paper is the question, “What can be done about language shift?” My contribution to the answers is a call for further integration of youth perspectives into these academic discourses, most especially (but not exclusively) perspectives written by young scholars who are speaker-members of communities in which language shift is occurring. Such integration allows us to gain nuanced understandings of youth perceptions about language shift in their communities, the effects on their linguistic identities, and their motivations for reclaiming (or letting go of) their ancestral/heritage languages. This is a work in which I overtly take professional and personal stances, drawing upon my own experiences as a member of a Filipino diaspora in which language shift is currently taking place. [The Baybayin font above is © Norman de los Santos. To download it for personal, non-commercial use, please visit his site.] Itong kasulatang ito ay nagbibigay diin sa perspektibo ng kabataan dito sa pagtalakay ng pang-akademya tungkol sa paglilipat ng wika sa isang henerasyon at sa susunod na henerasyon at tungkol sa pagkakakilanlan ng wika. Nilalagay ko itong kasulatang ito sa loob ng mga mas malalaking pagtalakay ng pang-akademya tungkol sa pagkawala ng wika sa buong daigdig, sa pagpapanatili at pagbabagong-sibol, sa pagkasira at muling pagtataguyod ng pagpapadala ng wika’t kultura sa isang henerasyon at sa susunod na henerasyon, at sa pagbabago ng kalagayan ng makabagong daigdig na doon lumalabas ang mga pagkakakilanlan ng wika ng mga kabataan. Nasa pinakapuno ng kasulatan ko ang tanong na, “Ano kaya ang puwedeng gawin tungkol sa paglilipat ng wika sa susunod na mga henerasyon?” Ang sagot ko ay isang anunsyo na dapat magkaroon ng mas maraming pagsasama-sama ng perspektibo ng mga kabataan sa pagtalakay ng pang-akademya, lalo na (subali’t hindi eksklusibo) ang mga perspektibong isinulat ng mga batang mag-aaral na sila ay kasapi ng sambayanan na ito ay may paglilipat ng wika, at itong mga mag-aaral na ito ay marunong magsalita ng wika ng sambayanan (o kaya naiintindihan nila ang wika). Sa pagkakasama-sama nito, magiging mas malalim ang pagka-unawa natin tungkol sa pang-unawa ng mga kabataan tungkol sa paglilipat ng wika sa mga sambayanan nila, tungkol sa kalalabsan ng mga pagkakakilanlan nila tungkol sa wika, at tungkol sa pagganyak nila kung bakit gusto nilang ibalik sa mabuting kalagayan (o kaya’y pawalain) ang mga minamana nilang wika. Ginagamit ko ang mga paninindigang propesyonal at pansarili sa kasulatang ito; ginagamit ko ang aking mga karanasan, dahil ako ay kasapi ng sambayanan ng Pinoy na wala sa Pilipinas, at nagbabago ang aming mga wika.
- On Training in Language Documentation and Capacity Building in Papua New Guinea: A Response to Bird et al. - March 1, 2015
Abstract: In a recent article, Bird et al. (2013) discuss a workshop held at the University of Goroka in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in 2012. The workshop was intended to offer a new methodological framework for language documentation and capacity building that streamlines the documentation process and accelerates the global effort to document endangered languages through machine translation and automated glossing technology developed by computer scientists. As a volunteer staff member at the workshop, in this response to Bird et al. I suggest that it did not in the end provide us with a model that should be replicated in the future. I explain how its failure to uphold fundamental commitments from a documentary linguistic and humanistic perspective can help inform future workshops and large-scale documentary efforts in PNG. Instead of experimenting with technological shortcuts that aim to reduce the role of linguists in language documentation and that construct participants as sources of data, we should implement training workshops geared toward the interests and skills of local participants who are interested in documenting their languages, and focus on building meaningful partnerships with academic institutions in PNG.
- On Establishing Underlying Tonal Contrast - December 1, 2014
Abstract: Phonological field work is largely about establishing contrast in comparable environments. The notion of phonological contrast, however, can be confusing, particularly in its application to tone analysis. Does it mean phonemic contrast in the structuralist sense, or does it mean underlying contrast in the generative sense? Many linguists, in publications otherwise written from a generative perspective, support underlying tonal contrasts with minimal pairs and other data that are based on structuralist criteria. This paper critiques how tonal contrast is often supported in the literature and demonstrates that many supposed minimal pairs are invalid from a generative perspective. It further demonstrates that because many morphemes in tone languages consist solely of floating tones, the potential for these cannot be ignored when establishing comparable phonological environments. *This paper is in the series How to Study a Tone Language, edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman
- How To Study a Tone Language - December 1, 2014
Abstract: In response to requests I have often got as to how one approaches a tone language, I present a personal view of the three stages involved, starting from scratch and arriving at an analysis: Stage I: Determining the tonal contrasts and their approximate phonetic allotones. Stage II: Discovering any tonal alternations (“morphotonemics”). Stage III: establishing the tonal analysis itself. While most emphasis in the literature concerns this last stage, I show how the analysis crucially depends on the first two. A detailed illustration is presented from Oku, a Grassfields Bantu language spoken in Cameroon on which I personally worked in the field. The paper concludes with discussion of issues arising in other tone languages, illustrated by Corejuage (Tukanoan, Colombia), Peñoles Mixtec (Otomanguean, Mexico), Villa Alta Yatzachi Zapotec (Otomanguean, Mexico), Luganda (Bantu, Uganda), Hakha Lai (Tibeto-Burman, Myanmar and Northeast India), and Haya (Bantu, Tanzania). *This paper is in the series How to Study a Tone Language, edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman
- Review of For the sake of a song: Wangga songmen and their repositories - December 1, 2014
- The study of tone in languages with a quantity contrast - December 1, 2014
Abstract: This paper deals with the study of tone in languages that additionally have a phonological contrastive of quantity, such as vowel length or stress. In such complex word-prosodic systems, tone and the quantity contrast(s) can be fully independent of one another, or they may interact. Both of these configurations are illustrated in this paper, and the phonetic pressures underlying the development of interactions are laid out. The paper pays particular attention to the challenge of investigating complex word-prosodic systems. Central to the approach advocated here is the combination of qualitative fieldwork data collection methods with instrumental analysis. *This paper is in the series How to Study a Tone Language, edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman
- Ex-situ Documentation of Ethnobiology - December 1, 2014
Abstract: Migrant speakers of endangered languages living in urban centers in developed countries represent a valuable resource through which these languages may be conveniently documented. Here, we first present a general methodology by which linguists can compile a meaningful set of visual (and sometimes audio) stimuli with which to carry out a reasonably detailed ethnobiological elicitation session in an ‘ex-situ’ setting, such as an urban university. We then showcase some preliminary results of such an elicitation carried out on the Dumo, or Vanimo, language of north-western Papua New Guinea during a linguistic field methods course at the Australian National University. With the help of a region-specific set of visual stimuli obtained from various sources, it was possible to document many fascinating aspects of the fish, and other marine-biological, knowledge of Dumo speakers, along with detailed ethnographic notes on the cultural significance of marine creatures.
- The experimental state of mind in elicitation: illustrations from tonal fieldwork - December 1, 2014
Abstract: This paper illustrates how an “experimental state of mind”, i.e. principles of experimental design, can inform hypothesis generation and testing in structured fieldwork elicitation. The application of these principles is demonstrated with case studies in toneme discovery. Pike’s classic toneme discovery procedure is shown to be a special case of the application of experimental design. It is recast in two stages: (1) the inference of the hidden structure of tonemes based on unexplained variability in the pitch contour r emaining, even after other sources of influence on the pitch contour are accounted for, and (2) the confirmation of systematic effects of hypothesized tonal classes on the pitch contour in elicitations structured to control for confounding variables that could obscure the relati on between tonal classes and the pitch contour. Strategies for controlling the confounding variables, such as blocking and randomization, are discussed. The two stages are exemplified using data elicited from the early stages of toneme discovery in Kirikiri, a language of New Guinea. *This paper is in the series How to Study a Tone Language, edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman
- Review of Developing Orthographies for Unwritten Languages - December 1, 2014
- On beginning the study of the tone system of a Dene (Athabaskan) language: Looking back - December 1, 2014
Abstract: In this paper I review the methodology that I used in beginning my early fieldwork on a tonal Athabaskan language, including preparation through reading and listening, working with speakers, organizing data, and describing and analyzing the data, stressing how these are not steps or stages, but intersect and interact with each other. *This paper is in the series How to Study a Tone Language, edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman
- Studying tones in North East India: Tai, Singpho and Tangsa - December 1, 2014
Abstract: Drawing on nearly 20 years of study of a variety of languages in North East India, from the Tai and Tibeto-Burman families, this paper examines the issues involved in studying those languages, building on three well established principles: (a) tones are categories within a language, and the recognition of those categories is the key step in describing the tonal system; (b) in at least some languages, tones are a bundle of features, of which (relative) pitch is only one; and (c) tones may carry different levels of functional load in different languages. I will discuss the use of historical and comparative data to assist with tonal analysis, while raising the possibility that the tonal categories of individual words may vary from one language variety to the next. Different approaches to marking tones, for linguistic transcriptions, presentation of acoustic data (F0) and in practical orthographies are discussed, along with the effect of intonation and grammatical factors such as nominalisation on the realisation of tones. *This paper is in the series How to Study a Tone Language, edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman
- Studying emergent tone-systems in Nepal: Pitch, phonation and word-tone in Tamang - December 1, 2014
Abstract: This paper focuses on the particular kinds of difficulties which arise in the study of an emergent tone-system, exemplified by Tamang in Nepal, where pitch, phonation and other laryngeal features combine in the definition of a tone. As a consequence, conducting a well-ordered analysis in stages first of phonetic transcription, then variation in context, then interpretation is not possible. Rather we have to discover the contrasting categories first, and study their phonetic realization next, or do both at the same time. This also leads to questioning the validity of the traditional distinction of features into “distinctive” and “redundant” and proposing instead an analysis of an abstract “tone” as a bundle of cues. We will only sketch the second characteristic of the Tamang tone system, the extension of tone over the phonological word. The contributions of instrumental studies and of a comparative-historical perspective are discussed. *This paper is in the series How to Study a Tone Language, edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman
- Finding a way into a family of tone languages: The story and methods of the Chatino Language Documentation Project - December 1, 2014
Abstract: We give a narrative description of our ten-year path into the elaborate tonal systems of the Chatino languages (Otomanguean; Oaxaca, Mexico), and of some of the methods we have used and recommend, illustrated with specific examples. The work, ongoing at the time of writing, began when one of us (Cruz), a native speaker of San Juan Quiahije Chatino, entered the University of Texas at Austin as a Ph.D. student and formed, together with the other of us (Woodbury), a professor there, the Chatino Language Documentation Project, ultimately incorporating five other Ph.D. students and two other senior researchers. We argue for the importance of an interplay among speaker and non-speaker perspectives over the long course of work; a mix of introspection, hypothesis-testing, natural speech recording, transcription, translation, grammatical analysis, and dictionary-making as research methods and activities; an emphasis on community training as an active research context; the simultaneous study of many varieties within a close-knit language family to leverage progress; and the use of historical-comparative methods to get to know tonal systems and the roles they play at a deeper level. *This paper is in the series How to Study a Tone Language, edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman
- The Study of tone and related phenomena in an Amazonian tone language: Gavião of Rondônia - December 1, 2014
Abstract: This paper describes the methods used to study the tone and some related phenomena of the language of the Gavião of Rondônia, Brazil, which is part of the Mondé branch of the Tupi family. Whistling of words by indigenous informants was discovered to be a very effective method for obtaining phonetic accuracy in tone and length. Methods were devised to map out the system of tone and length. They were subsequently used in the study of other Amazonian languages, including Karitiana, Munduruku, Zoró, and Surui of Rondônia, with success. Some notes on tone considerations in orthography are offered, as well as notes on procedures that proved useful in the diachronic study of tone in the Mondé languages. Methods for the study of natural whistled speech used for distance communication are also described, with special attention to the whistled speech of the Gavião, including its use, its efficiency, and the whistling techniques used. The relation between some aspects of Gavião instrumental music and the suprasegmental aspects of the language are also discussed and the methods used to study this are described. Audio and video clips illustrate the phenomena being discussed. *This paper is in the series How to Study a Tone Language, edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman
- Studying Tonal Complexity, with a special reference to Mande languages - December 1, 2014
Abstract: Linguists tend to believe that total complexity of human languages is invariable. In order to test this hypothesis empirically, we need to calculate the complexity in different domains of language structure: phonology, morphology, syntax, etc. In this paper I provide some guidelines for documenting tonal systems and evaluating their complexity. I then apply my methodology to the Mande languages of West Africa and test a tonal equi-complexity hypothesis which says that languages with more tonal contrasts tend to have fewer tonal rules and vice versa. The data presented do not support such a concept of tonal equi-complexity in the domain of phonology, but there is a strong positive correlation between the number of tonal contrasts and the number of tonal morphemes. My explanation is that tonal contrasts and tonal morphemes tend to appear as a result of segmental loss, so the two phenomena are likely to co-occur. *This paper is in the series How to Study a Tone Language, edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman
- Strategies for analyzing tone languages - December 1, 2014
Abstract: This paper outlines a method of auditory and acoustic analysis for determining the tonemes of a language starting from scratch, drawing on the author’s experience of recording and analyzing tone languages of north-east India. The methodology is applied to a preliminary analysis of tone in the Thang dialect of Khiamniungan, a virtually undocumented language of extreme eastern Nagaland and adjacent areas of the Sagaing Division Myanmar (Burma). Following a discussion of strategies for ensuring that data appropriate for tonal analysis will be recorded, the practical demonstration begins with a description of how tone categories can be established according to their syllable type in the preliminary auditory analysis. The paper then uses this data to describe a method of acoustic analysis that ultimately permits the representation of pitch shapes as a function of absolute mean duration. The analysis of grammatical tones, floating tones and tone sandhi are exemplified with Mongsen Ao data, and a description of a perception test demonstrates how this can be used to corroborate the auditory and acoustic analysis of a tone system. *This paper is in the series How to Study a Tone Language, edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman
- Computational support for early elicitation and classification of tone - December 1, 2014
Abstract: Investigating a tone language involves careful transcription of tone on words and phrases. This is challenging when the phonological categories – the tones or melodies – have not been identified. Effects such as coarticulation, sandhi, and phrase-level prosody appear as obstacles to early elicitation and classification of tone. This article presents open source software that can assist with solving this problem. Users listen to words and phrases of interest, before grouping them into clusters having the same tonal properties. In this manner, it is possible to quickly annotate words of interest in extended recordings, and compare items that may be widely separated in the source audio to obtain consistent labelling. Users have reported that it is possible to train one’s ear to pick up on the linguistically salient distinctions. The approach is illustrated with data from Eastern Chatino (Mexico) and Alekano (Papua New Guinea). *This paper is in the series How to Study a Tone Language, edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman
- Notes from the Field: Baskeet Phonological Sketch and Digital Wordlist - December 1, 2014
- Reclaiming the Kaurna language: a long and lasting collaboration in an urban setting - October 1, 2014
Abstract: A long-running collaboration between Kaurna people and linguists in South Australiabegan in 1989 with a songbook. Following annual community workshops and theestablishment of teaching programs, the author embarked on a PhD to research historicalsources and an emerging modern language based on these sources. In response tonumerous requests for names, translations and information, together with Kaurna EldersLewis O’Brien and Alitya Rigney, the author and others formed Kaurna Warra Pintyandi(KWP) in 2002. It is a monthly forum where researchers, and others interested in Kaurnalanguage, can meet with Kaurna people to discuss their concerns. KWP, based at theUniversity of Adelaide, is not incorporated and attendance of meetings is voluntary. Thecommittee has gained a measure of credibility and respect from the Kaurna community,government departments and the public and has recently signed a Memorandum ofUnderstanding with the University of Adelaide. However, KWP and the author sit,uneasily at times, at the intersection between the University and the community. Thispaper explores the nature of collaboration between Kaurna people and researchersthrough KWP in the context of reliance on historical documentation, much of which isopen to interpretation. Linguistics provides some of the skills needed for interpretation ofsource materials. This is complemented by knowledge held by Kaurna people that isknown through oral history, spirituality and intuition.*This paper is in the series The Role of Linguists in Indigenous Community Language Programs in Australia, edited by John Henderson.
- Developing a Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages - October 1, 2014
Abstract: The fluctuating fortunes of Northern Territory bilingual education programs in Australian languages and English have put at risk thousands of books developed for these programs in remote schools. In an effort to preserve such a rich cultural and linguistic heritage, the Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages project is establishing an open access, online repository comprising digital versions of these materials. Using web technologies to store and access the resources makes them accessible to the communities of origin, the wider academic community, and the general public. The process of creating, populating, and implementing such an archive has posed many interesting technical, cultural and linguistic challenges, some of which are explored in this paper Description: National Foreign Language Resource Center
- When is a linguist not a linguist: the multifarious activities and expectations for a linguist in an Australian language centre - October 1, 2014
Abstract: The role of linguists employed in Aboriginal community language centres requires three considerations to be addressed by the language centres themselves, by the linguists and by the organisations that prepare them: what is required of the linguist by language centres; to what extent does the linguist's own skills, interests and ideology match what is required by their position; and how the linguist’s capabilities can best be matched to the requirements of the language centre. These three considerations are complex, in part specific to each language centre, and can involve skills that are not immediately oriented to, or transferable from, academic knowledge and skills. The sensitive and urgent nature of language revitalisation means that high expectations are often placed on the linguist by the language centre, which can lead to disappointment for all parties in various ways, and could even compromise the effectiveness of the language revitalisation. This paper attempts to critically address these three dimensions in relation to a Western Australian language centre, focussing on a case study of a community-based languages exhibition that took place in 2008. It describes the context of the language centre and then considers the role of the linguist operating within a sociolinguistically-oriented theoretical and methodological framework to revitalize languages, identifying different conceptualisations of the role. The case study explores the range of requirements made of the linguist during the languages exhibition project, and presents some reflections on the role in that context. *This paper is in the series The Role of Linguists in Indigenous Community Language Programs in Australia, edited by John Henderson.
- Linguists and language rebuilding: recent experience in two New South Wales languages - October 1, 2014
Abstract: This paper primarily considers the role of linguists in the process of language rebuilding, or language revival, that is, the process of working with a language that is no longer spoken so that it is spoken again. The paper is largely based on experience with Gamilaraay and Yuwaalaraay, two closely-related languages from northern New South Wales in Australia, but also on experience with other languages. *This paper is in the series The Role of Linguists in Indigenous Community Language Programs in Australia, edited by John Henderson.
- Between duty statement and reality – The “Linguist/Coordinator” at an Australian Indigenous language centre - October 1, 2014
Abstract: The size of Australian Indigenous language centres varies from small programs with a single employment position up to large organisations which may involve several linguists, a manager and a range of support staff. This article is based on the linguist’s work at an organisation at the smaller end of the scale – Mirima Dawang Woorlabgerring Language and Culture Centre (MDWg), which operates out of Kununurra in the remote East Kimberley Region of Western Australia. Following a brief introduction to the context and history of language work at MDWg, the author sheds light on typical community expectations, which cover an array of different language-related and nonlinguistic tasks. In a scenario where the linguist and coordinator roles are assigned to a single person it becomes clear that the range of duties can be overwhelmingly diverse and go beyond anything a linguist is exposed to during his/her academic studies. The article proceeds by identifying a range of challenges for a linguist/coordinator, addressing issues such as efficiency, balance, burnout and career planning. For each challenge, possible solutions are offered, with the vision of turning challenge into opportunity. The article concludes with a set of recommendations directed at various stakeholders in the work of Indigenous language centres. *This paper is in the series The Role of Linguists in Indigenous Community Language Programs in Australia, edited by John Henderson.
- Review of Arbil: Free Tool for Creating, Editing, and Searching Metadata - September 1, 2014
- Collaboration in the Context of Teaching, Scholarship, and Language Revitalization: Experience from the Chatino Language Documentation Project - September 1, 2014
Abstract: We describe our own experience of linguist-community collaboration over the last ten years in our Chatino Language Documentation Project, focused on the Chatino languages (Otomanguean; Oaxaca, Mexico). We relate episodes in the emergence and evolution of the collaboration between ourselves, and of the collaboration among ourselves and the Chatino communities with which we have worked. Our experience has several special features. First, our own collaboration began as native Chatino-speaking Ph.D. student and her teacher in a program focused on training speakers of Latin American indigenous languages in linguistics and anthropology, and developed into a larger collaboration among students and faculty where the student had a major leadership role. Second, our approach was documentary-descriptive and comparative, but it was also socially engaged or ‘activist,’, in that we sought to promote interest, awareness, and respect for the Chatino languages, to teach and support Chatino literacy, and to preserve and offer access to spoken Chatino, especially traditional verbal art. Our approach had synergies with local interests in writing and in honoring traditional speech ways, but it also led to conflicts over our roles as social actors, and the traditionally activist roles of indigenous teachers. Third, we experienced plasticity in the collaborative roles we played. Between ourselves, we were student and teacher, but also initiator and follower as we became engaged in revitalization. At the same time, the native speaker linguist found herself occupying a range of positions along a continuum from “insider” to “outsider” respect to her own community. *This paper is in the series Language Documentation in the Americas edited by Keren Rice and Bruna Franchetto
- Review of Mukurtu Content Management System - September 1, 2014
- The Pleasures and Pitfalls of a ‘Participatory’ Documentation Project: An Experience in Northwestern Amazonia - September 1, 2014
Abstract: This article adds a voice from Amazonia to the reflective discussion on documentation projects designed within a ‘participatory’ or ‘collaborative’ paradigm of language research. It offers a critical assessment of one such documentation project carried out from 2007-2011 with the Kotiria and Wa’ikhana (East Tukano) language communities, who live in the remote Vaupés basin of the northwest Amazon. It examines aspects of the four-year project that most approximated the participative ideals that inspired it, including community input throughout all phases of the project, a ‘team-based’ approach grounded in local partnerships, and efforts to establish a more equitable division of power and responsibility, as well as greater self-determination in the organization of documentation activities. It also points out some of the difficulties encountered along the way and raises questions related to expectations, unforeseen consequences, and sustainability, questions that still remain to be answered. *This paper is in the series Language Documentation in the Americas edited by Keren Rice and Bruna Franchetto
- Language Documentation in the Americas - September 1, 2014
Abstract: In the last decades, the documentation of endangered languages has advanced greatly in the Americas. In this paper we survey the role that international funding programs have played in advancing documentation in this part of the world, with a particular focus on the growth of documentation in Brazil, and we examine some of the major opportunities and challenges involved in documentation in the Americas, focusing on participatory research models. *This paper is in the series Language Documentation in the Americas edited by Keren Rice and Bruna Franchetto
- Training in the Community-Collaborative Context: A Case Study - September 1, 2014
Abstract: Emerging community-based methodologies call for collaboration with speech community members. Although motivated, community members may lack the tools or training to contribute actively. In response, many linguists deliver training workshops in documentation or preservation, while others train community members to record data. Although workshops address immediate needs, they are limited to what the individual linguist can teach. Speech community linguists may articulate goals beyond what one researcher can undertake. This creates a need for more advanced training than can be provided in the field. This paper uses a case study example to illustrate how the need for advanced training can be met through university-based workshops. It describes the process, challenges, and outcomes of bringing a nine-member team of Kari’nja (Cariban) speakers from Konomerume, Suriname to Eugene, Oregon for the 2010 Northwest Indian Language Institute’s (NILI) annual Summer Institute and the Institute on Field Linguistics and Language Documentation (InField). Lessons learned are situated in the context of community-collaborative methodologies, and a central role for training is articulated. This paper demonstrates that collaboration need not be limited to academic and speech communities, but rather can extend to a greater population of individuals who share an interest in promoting linguistic diversity.
- Documenting and Researching Endangered Languages: The Pangloss Collection - June 1, 2014
Abstract: The Pangloss Collection is a language archive developed since 1994 at the Langues et Civilisations à Tradition Orale (LACITO) research group of the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). It contributes to the documentation and study of the world’s languages by providing free access to documents of connected, spontaneous speech, mostly in endangered or under-resourced languages, recorded in their cultural context and transcribed in consultation with native speakers. The Collection is an Open Archive containing media files (recordings), text annotations, and metadata; it currently contains over 1,400 recordings in 70 languages, including more than 400 transcribed and annotated documents. The annotations consist of transcription, free translation in English, French and/or other languages, and, in many cases, word or morpheme glosses; they are time-aligned with the recordings, usually at the utterance level. A web interface makes these annotations accessible online in an interlinear display format, in synchrony with the sound, using any standard browser. The structure of the XML documents makes them accessible to searching and indexing, always preserving the links to the recordings. Long-term preservation is guaranteed through a partnership with a digital archive. A guiding principle of the Pangloss Collection is that a close association between documentation and research is highly profitable to both. This article presents the collections currently available; it also aims to convey a sense of the range of possibilities they offer to the scientific and speaker communities and to the general public.
- The Sony NEX-VG30 video camera: A review for use in language documentation - June 1, 2014
- Review of Gabmap: Doing Dialect Analysis on the Web - June 1, 2014
- Using Mixed Media Tools for Eliciting Discourse in Indigenous Languages - June 1, 2014
Abstract: Prosody plays a vital role in communication, but is one of the most widely neglected topics in language documentation. This omission is doubly detrimental since intonation is unrecoverable from transcribed texts, the most prevalent data sources for many indigenous languages. One of the underlying reasons for the dearth of prosodic data is methodological. Modern technology has removed technical barriers to recording the appropriate data, but traditional methods of elicitation still inhibit accurate documentation of linguistic structures at or above the phrasal level. In addition, these methods do not facilitate the mobilization of linguistic documentation. In this paper, we present techniques that we have developed that address both these concerns: 1) eliciting prosodic data for theoretical analysis, and 2) producing linguistic materials that can be useful for educators and curriculum developers. Highlighting advantages and disadvantages, we compare traditional elicitation and text-gathering methods with two non-traditional methodologies using non-verbal stimuli. These two non-traditional methodologies are aimed at collecting: 1) spontaneous conversation (either unguided, or task-oriented), and 2) partly scripted conversation (aided by multimedia tools). The methodologies are illustrated with original fieldwork on focus and intonation in two related, endangered Interior Salish languages – Nlhe7kepmxcín (Thompson) and St’át’imcets (Lillooet).
- yaʕ̓tmín cqwəlqwilt nixw, uł nixw, ul nixw, I need to speak more, and more, and more: Okanagan-Colville (Interior Salish) Indigenous second-language learners share our filmed narratives - June 1, 2014
Abstract: way’, iskwíst, my name is, Símlaxw, and I am from Penticton BC, Canada. kn sqilxw. I am a Syilx (Okanagan, Interior Salish) adult language learner. My cohort and I are midway in our language transformation to become proficient speakers. Our names are Prasát, Símlaxw, C’rtups, Xwnámxwnam, Staqwálqs, and our Elder, Samtíc’a. We created an adult immersion house, deep in Syilx territory, and lived and studied together for five months. We combined intensive curricular study, cutting-edge second-language acquisition techniques, filmed assessments, and immersion with our Elder. We emerged transformed—we are n’ qwcin, clear speakers, speaking at an intermediate level. There has been very little written about assessment of Indigenous language teaching methods or Indigenous language speaking ability, and much less written about filmed learning and assessment. Three films were created in our language, nqilxwcn, and placed on YouTube. The films give primacy to our personal narratives, document and share our transformation, speaking abilities, grassroots language activism and learning methods. This paper describes the films, my cohort’s transformation, assesses our speaking ability, describes Paul Creek Language Association curriculum, and represents a contribution to Indigenous language teaching methods, assessment and nqilxwcn revitalization. iskwíst Símlaxw, kn tl snpintktn. kn sqilxw u kn scmipnwín nqilxcn. axá inq ymín iscmamáy. kwu kcilclkst kwu capsíws, i sqlxwskwskwístt Prasát, Símlaxw, C rtups, Xwnámxwnam, Staqwálqs, na i xaptt, Samtíca. kwu kwliwt l nqilxwcn i citxwtt cilkst i xyanxw u isckwúl ka ís i t syayáxa. i l syayáxatt, cak mi wikntp i scmamáyatt i kyankxó nqilxcn i sc a ács, kwu cnqilxcnm, kwu sckwakwúlm nqilxcn, u kwu x stwilx i scqwaqwáltt. xcxact i sckwultt, naxm ksxan i tl silítt i l kiláwna i snilítns kwu ctixwlm. apná kwu capsíws u kwu n qwcin. wtntím i syayáxatt l YouTube u i scxminktt cakw ksaysnwím i scsmamáytt, kyankxó i sckwulslx, u cakw ckin i sk ak úlm i nqlqílxcn i kscmamáyax, u cakw mi xlal a nqlqilxwcntt.
- Using the Livescribe Echo Smartpen for Language Documentation - June 1, 2014
- Review of The Last Speakers: The quest to save the world's most endangered languages - June 1, 2014
- Beyond the Ancestral Code: Towards a Model for Sociolinguistic Language Documentation - June 1, 2014
Abstract: Most language documentation efforts focus on capturing lexico-grammatical information on individual languages. Comparatively little effort has been devoted to considering a language’s sociolinguistic contexts. In parts of the world characterized by high degrees of multilingualism, questions surrounding the factors involved in language choice and the relationship between ‘communities’ and ‘languages’ are clearly of interest to documentary linguistics, and this paper considers these issues by reporting on the results of a workshop held on sociolinguistic documentation in Sub-Saharan Africa. Over sixty participants from Africa and elsewhere discussed theoretical and methodological issues relating to the documentation of language in its social context. Relevant recommendations for projects wishing to broaden into the realm of sociolinguistic language documentation include: a greater emphasis on conversational data and the documentation of naturally occurring conversation; developing metadata conventions to allow for more nuanced descriptions of socio-cultural settings; encouraging teamwork and interdisciplinary collaboration in order to extend the scope of sociolinguistic documentation; collecting sociolinguistic data which can inform language planning and policy; and creating opportunities for training in sociolinguistic documentation. Consideration of sociolinguistic language documentation also raises significant questions regarding the ways in which Western language ideologies, which have been especially prominent in shaping documentary agendas, may be unduly influencing documentary practice in other parts of the world.
- Integrating Language Documentation, Language Preservation, and Linguistic Research: Working with the Kokamas from the Amazon - March 1, 2014
Abstract: This paper highlights the role of speech community members on a series of interconnected projects to document, study and maintain Kokama, a deeply endangered language from the Peruvian Amazon. The remaining fluent speakers of the language are mostly older than 60 years of age, are spread out across various small villages, and speak the language in very restricted situations. The aim of this paper is twofold. First, it demonstrates with concrete examples that outcomes of projects implemented in collaboration with speakers yield more broadly useful outcomes than those conducted by a linguist working alone. Second, it underscores the significance of documenting language interaction among different types of speakers in accordance with the view that language preservation is not only about promoting a linguistic code, but also includes documenting communicative practices. The projects reported here can contribute to the development of fieldwork methodologies to work with a range of speakers. The involvement of community members has been crucial for the design of culturally relevant strategies to assess fluency in Kokama, for the naturalness and variety within the collected data, and for the documentation of interactional patterns essential for revitalization initiatives. This paper supports the view that language documentation, language preservation, and linguistic research can be complementary endeavors.
- More than Words: Towards a Development-Based Approach to Language Revitalization - March 1, 2014
Abstract: Existing models for language revitalization focus almost exclusively on language learning and use. While recognizing the value of these models, we argue that their effective application is largely limited to situations in which languages have low numbers of speakers. For languages that are rapidly undergoing language shift, but which still maintain large vital communities of speakers, a model for revitalization is currently lacking. We offer the beginnings of such a model here, arguing that in these communities doing language revitalization must primarily mean addressing the causes of language shift, a task that we argue can be undertaken in collaborative efforts with social development organizations. The model contrasts strongly (though complementarily) with existing models in that it focuses on work in which explicitly language-focused activities are undertaken only as intentional support for social development projects. Where successful, we argue this approach achieves language revitalization goals in organic and sustainable ways that are much more difficult for language-focused programs to achieve. It therefore has the potential to stop and potentially reverse language shift in specific ways. We offer our experiences with Wuqu’ Kawoq|Maya Health Alliance, a healthcare NGO in Guatemala, which attempts to follow this model, as evidence for the model’s viability.
- Using Gesture to Teach Seneca in a Language Nest School - March 1, 2014
Abstract: Seneca elder Sandy Dowdy and her granddaughter Autumn Crouse direct a language nest school for children aged two to five years in a small longhouse-shaped building, Ganöhsesge:kha:’ Hë:nödeyë:sta’:, or the Faithkeepers School, on the Seneca Allegany Territory in upstate New York. They practice immersion teaching and use forms of gesturing to teach the children both conversational and spiritual functions of Seneca, capitalizing on the belief that the use of gesturing is an effective tool for teaching children, especially those in the toddler range. Gesturing is useful because language and gesture are positively linked, signing links concepts to verbal learning, gesture helps aid memory, and incorporating gesture while learning a language encourages active learning. Gesturing also helps children learn complex concepts, which is ideal for teaching Seneca since the children are learning the Ganö:nyök, literally, ‘let it be used for expressing thanks’ and otherwise known as the Thanksgiving Address, a daily recitation that expresses thankfulness for all of creation.
- Review of SayMore, a tool for Language Documentation Productivity - March 1, 2014
- Using TEI for an Endangered Language Lexical Resource: The Nxaʔamxcín Database-Dictionary Project - March 1, 2014
Abstract: This paper describes the evolution of a lexical resource project for Nxaamxcín, an endangered Salish language, from the project’s inception in the 1990s, based on legacy materials recorded in the 1960s and 1970s, to its current form as an online database that is transformable into various print and web-based formats for varying uses. We illustrate how we are using TEI P5 for data-encoding and archiving and show that TEI is a mature, reliable, flexible standard which is a valuable tool for lexical and morphological markup and for the production of lexical resources. Lexical resource creation, as is the case with language documentation and description more generally, benefits from portability and thus from conformance to standards (Bird and Simons 2003, Thieberger 2011). This paper therefore also discusses standards-harmonization, focusing on our attempt to achieve interoperability in format and terminology between our database and standards proposed for LMF, RELISH and GOLD. We show that, while it is possible to achieve interoperability, ultimately it is difficult to do so convincingly, thus raising questions about what conformance to standards means in practice.
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